If there is someone who can understand the mental and medical needs of the elderly, then it has to be a geriatric nurse. It is said that age is the invention of many problems. When a person grows old, he/she experiences many issues related to health.
Mostly, the issues are complex, and it needs constant and long-term attention. Nurses who have specialized in geriatric nursing care cater to medical issues very diligently. Given the health complication of the elderly, there is no direct entry to this skilled position. You have to start as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), then go up the ladder to become a registered nurse (RN) and qualify by taking an additional certification course to fit the bill.
Geriatric nursing and gerontological nursing are synonyms to each other. Both these terms are used according to the preferences of states. However, the main aim is to take the medical and emotional care of the aged people no matter by which name this practice is referring to. Working with senior people needs maturity and good reflexes to figure out the rapid changes seen in patients’ health. Also, it is necessary to update patients’ families on any complex issues.
Geriatric nursing care is taken in hospitals, retirement homes, and long-term care facilities. Nurses taking care of residents have to specialize in geriatric needs.
The common problems associated with age are diabetes, hypertension, dementia, lack of mobility, etc. To cover all these problems in nursing education, many certification programs are available for nurses to specialize in.
How to Become a Geriatric Nurse?
Geriatric nurses work for patients who are senior citizens. To work and provide care to such patients, it needs compassion and respect for the age.
If you are working in this position, you will have to assist physicians, diagnose symptoms and signs of diseases in patients, administer medications as planned, and communicate with patients and their families regularly.
To become a geriatric nurse, a degree in nursing science and an RN license are necessary. Besides, some rules expect two years of working as an RN covering 2000 hours of clinical experience in the related field. Further, you must show that in the last three years of your service, you have fulfilled the minimum hours of continuous training in gerontological nursing.
Various training centers offer specialization courses on geriatric nursing. The details of such training centers are easily accessible on the Internet.
However, just like all other nursing certification programs, it is compulsory to complete an accredited course. Even medical colleges are offering courses on gerontological nursing. You can also enroll in a four-year degree course in nursing universities if you want to establish your career as a geriatric nurse.
Duties of Geriatric Nurse
Duties and problems are inter-related. This means when a specific area or field has more problems, your duties will be doubled. This principle applies to geriatric nursing, as well. As mentioned early, aged people have myriad problems. As such, the duties of geriatric nurses are not limited or restricted. Depending on what types of patients they are working for, the responsibilities will vary.
If you have specialized in providing nursing care to diabetic patients, then you will have to start your day by inspecting the sugar level in blood and urine. You will have to inject insulin to patients in whom the sugar level is high. Further, you will have to watch the food intake of patients. The duties when caring for dementia or Alzheimer’s patient will be different.
However, you will be performing the following everyday duties:
- Assisting physicians in diagnosing patients
- Taking vital signs and performing other tests as necessary
- Planning for care and treatment
- Working on a set plan and administering medications
- Updating patients and family members about treatment and health conditions
Career Outlook for geriatric nursing
The places of employment for geriatric nurses are not limited. Hospitals, nursing homes, community health centers, and long-term care facilities are always in need of geriatric nurses. These healthcare professionals can also work by visiting patients in their homes to provide medical care.
Mostly, home-based patients are those who can manage most of the routine activities on their own but need regular care and treatment. They understand and realize the emotional and medical needs of the elderly and so can react wisely to patients’ needs. The salary of the geriatric nurse is more as compared to certified nursing assistants (CNA).
The population situation by 2030 will be different. Mostly, people above 65 years will share 20% of the population. Further, older people always occupy most of the healthcare settings for various problems. If this is the situation, there is no second opinion that a geriatric nursing career is slated to expand in the next few years.
With this, there will be a significant employment rise of 20 to 22% in the medical industry. Therefore, if you have regard for age and elderly, you can have a great future pursing a geriatric nursing career.
You must be emotionally and mentally strong if you are planning to work for elderly patients. This is because you will see more deaths in your profession since elderly patients succumb to their ailments. Also, people become more sensitive with age. You must have the skills to provide emotional support and strength as well, besides nursing care.