Geriatric Nursing Assistant: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Explore the career requirements for geriatric nursing assistants. Get the facts about education, salary, 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 Nursing Assistant?

Geriatric nursing assistants are allied health professionals who specialize in helping the elderly with health and hygiene tasks. Their main responsibilities include moving to their beds or wheelchairs, cleaning and bathing patients, measuring patients' vital signs and reporting their various health problems and concerns to nurses. They may work in hospitals, extended care facilities or nursing homes. The following chart gives you an overview about entering this field.

Degree Required Post-secondary diploma
Key Responsibilities Assist elderly patients with hygiene; reposition non-ambulatory patients; assist patients with transferring between bed and chair or with walking; serve food and assist patient with eating
Certification State certification may be required; nursing assistants who work in nursing home must be registered and/or certified by the state
Job Growth (2014-2024) 18% (for all nursing assistants)*
Median Salary (2015) $25,710 (for all nursing assistants)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do As a Geriatric Nursing Assistant?

As a geriatric nursing assistant or aide, you work directly with elderly patients to ensure their comfort and well-being. Geriatric nursing assistants help bathe, dress, undress, feed and transport patients. You may also prepare patients for surgery, clean and organizer patients' rooms and change bed linens. Some employers may ask you to take patient's blood pressure and temperature, as well as provide any other care directed under the supervision of geriatric nurses and doctors. You might also assist nurses and doctors with treatments and surgeries.

What Is My Career Outlook?

Geriatric nursing assistants support the efforts of certified nurses in hospitals, clinics, retirement homes and special care units. You might also find employment in the homes of patients via a home nursing service. Geriatric nursing assistants can expect to see increasing job opportunities as the population ages and health facilities require additional support in providing care to their elderly patients. Additionally, more geriatric patients are residing in long-term care facilities in an effort for hospitals to spend less money.

In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that career opportunities for nursing assistants were expected to grow nearly 18% between the years of 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, BLS salary data reported that the middle half of nursing assistants earned between $21,780 and $30,530. Many nursing assistants work a variety of hours, since care in nursing homes and assisted living facilities must be available 24 hours per day.

What Education Do I Need?

To pursue a career as a geriatric nursing assistant, you must have a high school diploma or its equivalent, and you must acquire the necessary state certifications. To work in a nursing care facility, you must meet federal requirements, which include completion of a training program that provides a minimum of 75 hours of instruction. In these programs, you learn about patient communication skills, infection control, hygiene, nutrition, death and dying. Even if you attend a training program, you may obtain most of your training and education while on the job.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a variety of similar careers that individuals who are considering professions in geriatric nursing assisting may wish to consider, including licensed practical or vocational nursing and medical assisting. Like geriatric nursing assisting, both of these careers require post-secondary training and work closely with patients under the supervision of a doctor or other medical staff. If they want to provide individuals with personalized healthcare, they could become home health aides or personal care aides. These professionals work directly with patients in their homes, and there are no education requirements to pursue this career.

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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