Geriatric Nurse: Career Profile, Occupational Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Explore the career requirements for geriatric nurses. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, job duties and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Adult Health Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Geriatric Nurse?

Geriatric nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who work with the elderly population. As nurses, they are responsible for observing, measuring and recording patients conditions and symptoms. This includes monitoring medical equipment, taking vital signs and performing diagnostic tests. In the event of an injury or illness, they consult with doctors. They also work with patients families to teach them how to help patients recover, stay healthy and cope with medical or aging obstacles. The following chart gives you an overview about becoming a geriatric nurse.

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Nursing
Key Responsibilities Perform diagnostic testing and administer medication; assist doctor with examinations and procedures; implement prescribed treatment and teach patient and family required treatment and procedures; maintain patient records
Licensure and/or Certification All states require RNs to be licensed; board certification in gerontological nursing is available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 16% for all registered nurses*
Median Salary (2017) $65,031**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com

What Would I Do as a Geriatric Nurse?

As a geriatric nurse, you would provide care to aging and elderly patients. You would focus on developing treatment plans for the chronic and acute illnesses that often affect the health of elderly patients. Your patients may experience a decline in eyesight, mental clarity and bladder control, so you would work to provide medical care to patients while also educating their families about geriatric care. In order to emotionally, mentally and physically support your patients, you should have a compassionate manner and good physical health. You could work in a hospital, nursing home, rehabilitation hospital, retirement community or patient's home.

What Is the Occupational Outlook?

Job opportunities for geriatric nurses are expected to increase as the U.S. population ages and the nursing professionals of today retire. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for nurses in all sectors were projected to increase 16% in the decade from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). You can expect to find work in health care clinics, hospitals and retirement facilities, or as a researcher, administrator or educator. In 2017, Salary.com reported that the median salary for geriatric nurses is $65,031.

What Education Do I Need?

Although there are specialized degree programs for geriatric nursing at the master's degree level, you can begin working as a nurse after completing either a 2-year associate's or 4-year bachelor's degree program in nursing. You'll study the fundamentals of biology, health and nursing, as well as participate in supervised clinical experiences. In order to work as a Registered Nurse (RN) in the U.S., you'll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

How Could I Advance My Career?

Licensure is the only legal requirement to become a geriatric nurse, but you can pursue a professional certification after you have gained some experience in the field. The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers a gerontological nursing certification that results in the Registered Nurse-Board Certified credential (www.nursecredentialing.org). Eligibility requirements include RN licensure, two years of full-time RN experience, 2,000 hours of gerontological nursing experience and 30 hours of continuing education in gerontological nursing.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

RNs may go into a number of various specializations, including addiction nursing, cardiovascular nursing, critical care nursing, genetics nursing and neonatology nursing, to name a few. Like geriatric nursing, some of these specializations work with a particular population. Those who are not RNs may still provide basic nursing care under the supervision of RNs and doctors as licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs). Likewise, physician assistants may help doctors diagnose and treat patients.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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