What They Do
Geriatric nurses provide health and support services to older patients in a variety of settings. Caring for a specific demographic of people such as the elderly requires a geriatric nurse to understand the unique needs of their patients. Elderly patients suffer from many physical and mental ailments and require specialized care and attention.
Geriatric nurses should be able to care for patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Nursing homes and residential care facilities often have special wings for Alzheimer’s patients. Geriatric patients are prone to physical ailments like infection, arthritis and broken bones.
Geriatric nursing positions are available in environments like:
- nursing homes
- residential care facilities
- physical therapy centers
- home healthcare services
Because geriatric nurses may care for patients who are disoriented, they should be able to handle some physical demands like lifting and supporting patients. Geriatric nursing requires empathy, patience and attention to detail.
Because Baby Boomers are aging, geriatric care is in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that residential care facilities and home healthcare services are expected to grow, as well as facilities that treat Alzheimer’s patients. The overall job outlook for nursing is very good, with growth at a faster pace than the average for all occupations.
The BLS reports that the median annual salary for registered nurses who work in hospitals is $67,210. Nurses who work for home healthcare services earn an average of $62,090; those who work in nursing and residential care facilities earn $58,830. The median annual salary for nurse practitioners is $89,960.
More colleges and universities are adding gerontology nursing courses to their programs in order to help meet the overall demand for nurses in this specialty. Registered nurses are generally required to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and, in this case, a background in geriatric patient care.
For those who want to become nurse practitioners, a Master of Science in Nursing along with professional experience in geriatrics is often required.