By Karen Edmondson
Updated: August 19, 2021
Table of Contents show
Geriatric Nursing Overview
- What You Will Do: Provide professional nursing care for older patients, helping them maintain independence, mobility and quality of life
- Where Will You Work: Typically geriatric nurses are primarily employed in hospitals, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing facilities/long-term care. Other venues include outpatient clinics, retirement centers, or home health agencies.
- Employment Projections: Nursing is expected to be the fastest-growing professions, with growth projected at 16% – 23%. Nurses specializing in geriatric care are in high demand.
- How Much Will I Earn: The average annual salary for geriatric nurses is $68, 534.
- Requirements to Become One: Become an RN, obtain licensure, obtain experience in geriatric nursing, obtain certification as a geriatric nurse.
Online Nursing Programs That Might Interest You
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Steps to Become a Geriatric Nurse
- Earn Your RN: You must earn an RN degree from an accredited Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor Degree in Nursing (BSN) program. Many hospitals prefer a BSN degree. To further advance as a geriatric nurse, a master’s degree (MSN) is recommended.
- Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam: All RNs must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain licensure to practice nursing.
- Specialize in geriatric nursing: On obtaining licensure, RNs seeking to specialize in geriatric nursing must first gain professional nursing clinical experience working with older patients.
- Obtain Gerontological Nursing Certification: You must have a minimum of 2 years professional nursing experience, with a minimum of 2000 hours of clinical experience in geriatric nursing within the past 3 years. You must also document 30 hours of specialty related continuing education within the last 3 years.
What is a Geriatric Nurse?
Geriatric nurses specialize in providing professional nursing care for older patients, typically age 50 and over. The primary focus for geriatric nursing is to promote independence, mobility, and quality of life for the elder patient. Geriatric nurses address psychosocial as well as age-related physiological issues, working with primary care providers, social workers, and families to develop an individualized plan of care for elderly clients. In addition geriatric nurses are important advocates promoting the safety and well-being of older adults, including issues such as elder abuse and neglect.
How Do I Become a Geriatric Nurse?
The first step toward becominga geriatric nurse is to become a Registered Nurse, earning an associate (ADN)or bachelor of science degree (BSN) from an accredited nursing program. It isimportant to note that many employers prefer at least a BSN. After graduation,you must obtain RN licensure by taking the NCLEX-RN examination in your state.Once you have achieved licensure, you will need to obtain professional nursingclinical experience in geriatric nursing.
To be eligible to obtain Gerontologic NursingCertification (RN-BC) certification offered by the American NursesCredentialing Center (ANCC) you must:
- Hold current, active RN licensure
- Have a minimum of 2 years full-timeprofessional nursing experience
- Have a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinicalpractice in geriatric nursing within the last 3 years.
- Have completed 30 hours of continuingeducation in geriatric nursing within the last 3 years.
Certification is validfor 5 years, after which it must be renewed by meeting the renewal requirementsin place at the time of renewal, such as specialty-related professionaldevelopment and practice activities. If this is not possible, the certificationexam must be retaken.
At the graduate/advancedpractice nurse level, the ANCC offers two certifications; Adult-GerontologyAcute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification and Adult-Gerontology Primary CareNurse Practitioner Certification.
- Current, active RN licensure
- Graduate of MSN or DNP Adult-GerontologicalAcute Care or Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program
- A minimum of 500 faculty-supervisedclinical hours in the related nurse practitioner role.
Certification is valid for 5 years, after which it must be renewed by meeting the renewal requirements in place at the time of renewal, such as specialty-related professional development and practice activities. If this is not possible, the certification exam must be retaken.
Where Do Geriatric Nurses Typically Work?
Geriatric nurses typically work in hospitals and long-term healthcare facilities. Their job is to care for patients who are often bedridden and require assistance with mobility, medications, attachments, feeding tubes, wound dressings and other daily living tasks. Nurses aid in the prevention of partial or total dependency that a patient may otherwise have had were it not for their care. They also provide emotional support and provide guidance on how family members can best help the patient during his/her time of need. Some geriatric nurses engage in advocacy programs where they speak about beliefs regarding aging-related illnesses as well as ways to avoid abuse.
Types of Geriatric Nurses
There are many different types of geriatric nurses. Registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and geriatric nurse practitioners are all available to work with older adults and their needs. They’re typically found in hospitals or long-term care facilities, but geriatrics is a recognized medical specialty, so they can also be found in doctor’s offices or public health settings.
What Do Geriatric Nurses Do?
Geriatric nurses are responsible for promoting independence, mobility and quality of life in their patients as well working closely with families to develop individualized plans of care. They address psychosocial as well as age-related physiological issues, often working alongside primary care providers, social workers and other medical professionals. Geriatric nurses will typically assist the elderly patient with tasks such as medication management or basic personal hygiene needs as well as advocate for safety and well-being of the patient. They also often engage in advocacy programs where they speak about beliefs regarding aging-related illnesses as well as ways to avoid abuse.
How Much Do Geriatric Nurses Earn?
Nursing, in general, isidentified as one of the fastest growing professions in the US in terms ofsalary, with a projected growth of 16% +, much higher than the national average.Specialty certification can increase earnings significantly; the median annualsalary range for geriatric nurses is 62,070 to $79,232, with an average salaryof $68,534. This is dependent on the job, and the geographical area. Salariesare generally higher in urban areas, however, the cost of living is typicallyhigher, as well. In addition, bachelor’s prepared nurses tend to earn highersalaries than nurses with associate degrees. According to the Bureau of LaborStatistics the top five states for general nursing salaries are (range 96,470 –81,380);
Geriatric Nurse Programs
At the undergraduatelevel, specialty-related education consists of continuing education activities,such as conferences or online CEU providers.
Becoming a geriatricnurse practitioner or clinical specialist requires earning a master’s degree innursing (MSN). The typical program consists of offering a specialtyadult-gerontology nursing, either in acute care or primary care. Some examplesof universities offering a geriatric advanced practice nursing (APRN) specialtyor post-Master’s certificate include:
- Duke University School of Nursing, Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care. Durham, NC. https://nursing.duke.edu/academic-programs/msn-master-science-nursing/adult-gerontology-nurse-practitioner-primary-care
- University of South Carolina College of Nursing – Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. Columbia, SC. https://sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/nursing/academic_programs/graduate_programs/masters_programs/agacnp.php
- Old Dominion University School of Nursing – Adult-Gerontology Clinical Specialist/Educator. Norfolk, VA. https://online.odu.edu/programs/nursing-adult-gerontology-clinical-nurse-specialist-educator
- Vanderbilt University School of Nursing – Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. Nashville, TN. https://nursing.vanderbilt.edu/msn/agpcnp/index.php
- Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing – Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. Atlanta, GA. http://www.nursing.emory.edu/admission-and-aid/msn-programs/index.html
Online Nursing Programs That Might Interest You
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Discover Related Geriatric Programs
- Hospice Nursing
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP
What is a Typical Geriatric Nursing Curriculum?
Continuing education atthe undergraduate level focuses on broad range of related topics, including;
- Demographic characteristics related toolder adults
- Models of care for older adults
- Physiologic, cognitive and psychosocialchanges of aging
- Current treatment and prevention
- Functional assessment of older adults
- Fall risk factors and assessment strategies
- Management of medications
- Risk factors and signs of elder abuse
- Principles related to end-of-life care
At the graduate level,nurses typically begin with pursuing an MSN as an Adult-Gerontolgical Acute Careor Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. Some programs do include a post-graduatecertificate program beyond the MSN. These programs focus on aspects of Adult-GerontologicalNursing including:
- Acute and complex chronic diseasemanagement
- Optimal wellness, health promotion
- Advanced physiology and pathophysiology
- Mental health issues
- Research and evidence-based practice
- Healthcare quality and patient safety
- Advanced skin and wound management
- Palliative care
- Advanced pharmacology
The Role of the Geriatric Nurse in the Nursing Shortage
The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites thatemployment for nurses will increase at a rate of 16% by 2024. There is anational shortage of nurses in general related to the Baby Boomer populationentering retirement, and the increased health needs of the growing agingpopulation. It is projected that the South and West will be hardest hit by thenursing shortage. The 12 states expected to have the most acute shortages are;Florida, Georgia, Texas, Virginia, Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho,Montana, Nevada and New Mexico.
Given the growing elder population, nurses specializing in geriatric care are will be in greater demand, with a higher than average growth rate than for nursing in general. Employment opportunities are expected to expand, making this specialty a very stable career path for professional nurses.
Geriatric Nurse Resources
- The American Nurses Credentialing Center –https://www.nursingworld.org/our-certifications/gerontological-nurse/
- National Gerontological NursingAssociation – https://www.gapna.org/
- American Geriatric Society – https://www.americangeriatrics.org/
- The Hartford Institute for GeriatricNursing – https://hign.org/
- American Society on Aging – https://www.asaging.org/
- American assisted Living NursesAssociation – http://www.alnursing.org/
- All Nursing Schools .com – https://www.allnursingschools.com
- American Nurses Credentialing Center – https://www.nursingworld.org/our-certifications
- Nurse Journal – https://nursejournal.org
- Registered Nurse.com – https://www.registerednursern.com
- Salary.com – https://www1.salary.com
- US Department of Labor; Bureau of Labor Statistics – https://www.bls.gov/
Take the next step toward your healthcare future with online learning.Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.
Karen is a Registered Nurse, graduating with a BSN in nursing in 1972 from North Park College in Chicago, Illinois. Her graduate degree was earned at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, in 1985. While her major clinical area specialty has been maternal/infant, pediatrics nursing, and women’s health, she has also worked in med-surg and adult ICU environments. She have 22 years’ experience in a faculty role, the past 7 years in an online venue.
Sources: 50 State Boards of Nursing, University Websites, U.S. Department of Education, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ranking Methodology.
What qualities do you think a nurse would need to make a good geriatric nurse? ›
- Communication Skills. ...
- Patience. ...
- Ability to Cope with Death. ...
- Critical Thinking and Mental Flexibility. ...
- Focus on Preventive Care.
A registered nurse degree apprenticeship (RNDA) offers a flexible route to becoming a nurse that doesn't require full-time study at university. You will need to secure a position as an RNDA and your employer will release you to study at university part time.Can I train as a nurse at 55? ›
There is no upper age limit to start nurse training but you should discuss any concerns that you might have about your suitability for training with the universities offering courses.What is the hardest part of nursing interview question? ›
The hardest part of being a nurse is seeing a patient in pain or unhappy and being limited in the extent I can comfort them. The reality is that as a professional I can only do so much. However, I realize this helps me so that I do not become too emotionally invested in my patients."What skills do you need to be a geriatric nurse? ›
- Knowledge of the aging process. ...
- Promoting physical and emotional wellbeing. ...
- Recognition of common geriatric health issues. ...
- Understanding of elder abuse, warning signs. ...
- Keen observation & critical thinking. ...
- Verbal & non-verbal communication.
- Communication. ...
- Patience. ...
- Tending to the patient's concerns about the care process. ...
- Extensive knowledge of geriatric health issues. ...
- Maximizing comfort during the treatment process. ...
- Making treatment facilities a safe environment for patients. ...
- Learn More. ...
- Recommended Readings.
It's much harder than other non medical degrees. We have much more exams and more essays, assignments, etc than other courses. For example, this year we have 6 weeks of placement where we work 3-4 x 12 1/2 hour shifts per week (we don't get paid) and the day after our placement finishes we are straight into exams.Can I study nursing part-time? ›
Yes, there are many institutions that offer Nursing courses part-time.Can I study nursing for 6 months? ›
SHORT COURSES (6 MONTH IN-SERVICE CERTIFICATE PROGRAMMES)
As an Enrolled Nurse or Registered Nurse, you can develop your career by specialising in one or more post-basic fields of healthcare.
You can earn an associate degree and become a licensed RN in about 2 years. You can gain essential work experience in the field sooner than others. You can also start building connections in nursing, and with patients, sooner. You can save money by earning an associate, rather than a four-year degree.
How old do nurses retire? ›
For nurses with time to plan, the prospect of an early or timely retirement with a properly sized financial portfolio and social security benefits appeals to them when they reach the current full retirement age of about 67 years or even before at 62 years (without full social security benefits).Is 65 too old to become a nurse? ›
While going back to school for nursing at 30 or 40 is a big change, you are never too old to change careers. Nursing provides a rewarding second career, and your life experience prepares you for nursing. Through the accelerated BSN program, you can become a nurse sooner.What is a good weakness to say in a nursing interview? ›
Reflect on your weaknesses
Spending too much time on paperwork. Paying too much attention to detail. Attempting to complete too many tasks at once. A lack of clinical experience, which may apply to recent graduates or new nurses.
Answer “what is your greatest weakness” by choosing a skill that is not essential to the job you're applying to and by stressing exactly how you're practically addressing your weakness. Some skills that you can use as weaknesses include impatience, multitasking, self-criticism, and procrastination.What do you see as the role of a geriatric RN? ›
Geriatric nurses provide healthcare services to the elderly, helping them maintain their quality of life. Although responsibilities vary by employment setting, these RNs may assess vital signs, administer medications, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to implement treatment plans.Why do you want to be a geriatric nurse? ›
The American Geriatrics Society cites studies showing that working with older clients is one of the most satisfying career paths: “Geriatrics healthcare professionals cite their encounters with inspirational older adults, the deep and meaningful relationships they develop, and the typically steady work hours as ...What are the duties and responsibilities of a geriatric nurse? ›
- Assess the patient's mental status and cognitive (thinking) skills.
- Understand patient's acute and chronic health issues.
- Discuss common health concerns, such as falls, incontinence, changing sleep patterns and sexual issues.
- Organize medications.
Becoming a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner requires 6 to 8 years of education and nursing training. To be eligible for certification in gerontological care, you'll also have to gain experience working as an RN.How do you deal with elderly patients? ›
- Use proper form of address. Establish respect right away by using formal language. ...
- Make older patients comfortable. ...
- Take a few moments to establish rapport. ...
- Try not to rush. ...
- Avoid interrupting. ...
- Use active listening skills. ...
- Demonstrate empathy. ...
- Avoid medical jargon.
The long-term career outlook for geriatric nurses is bright. As the population continues to age and more and more people transition into elder care facilities, more nurses will be needed to provide skilled nursing care.
What is the hardest nursing job? ›
- Intensive Care Unit nurses (ICU) ICU is an extremely high-pressure environment and these nurses work with patients who have significant injuries and disease with added morbidity risks. ...
- Emergency Department nurses. ...
- Neonatal ICU. ...
- OR nursing. ...
- Oncology Nursing. ...
- Psychiatric Nursing.
For the easiest nursing degrees, your best options include shorter programs like licensed practical nurse and licensed vocational nurse programs, associate's degree programs, bridge programs for registered nurses seeking bachelor's degrees and hybrid nursing programs.What is the hardest part of nursing school? ›
Pharmacology. Pharmacology, or the study of medication, can seem scary because of the sheer scope of the course. "It becomes one of the hardest classes for nursing students due to the depth and amount of knowledge needed," says Megan Lynch, instructor at Pima Community College.Which course is best for nursing? ›
Undoubtedly, if a person wants to make a magnificent career in the sphere of the healthcare industry, then B.sc Nursing course is better than General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM). In the matter of career growth, higher studies, and salary the value of B.sc Nursing is more than General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM) course.Is it possible to study nursing online? ›
You can earn a nursing degree online, a route that can make sense for working adults and others. In our fast-paced and busy world, those looking to start or change careers want as many options as possible for pursing an education. Many schools have responded by offering online programs.What is a 3 year diploma in nursing? ›
The Diploma in General Nursing (R171) is a three year programme, leading to registration with South African Nursing Council as a General Nurse. The programme consists of a theory and clinical component which must be completed in each academic year.What is the fastest way to become a nurse? ›
If you're itching to enter the field, the fastest way to become a nurse would be taking the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) route. While you wouldn't actually be an RN, you could complete a Practical Nursing program and be well on your way to launching a nursing career in as few as 12 months.Can I become a nurse without qualifications? ›
What Qualifications Do You Need to be a Nurse? Those wishing to become a nurse will need to complete a degree in nursing, whether that is via a traditional full-time degree course, a flexible apprenticeship course, or via the nursing associate programme.How much is the school fees of nursing? ›
For a traditional four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program, students can expect total tuition costs of at least $40,000. Tuition can reach up to $80,000, or even upwards of $100,000. BSN degrees typically comprise 120 credits, with colleges and universities charging per credit.What's higher than an RN? ›
What is the highest level of nurse? The highest level of clinical nursing is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), which is a nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialist.
How many hours do RN work a week? ›
Registered nurses usually work five shifts per week—usually 8 hours each—or another combination that totals the same number of hours. For example, some nurses work four 10-hour shifts, and others work three 12-hour shifts. All these varieties add up to a workweek that's roughly 40 hours.Why is a BSN better than an ADN? ›
A BSN degree is a bachelor's degree, typically a four-year program, that is a step higher than an ADN degree. Registered nurses with this degree not only go to school longer, but they also gain a more in-depth education compared to those with an ADN degree.What age are most nurses? ›
The median age of a registered nurse is 52 years old. 9.4% of the RN and 8.1% of the LPN/LVN workforce are men.Why do people say nursing is hard? ›
The main reason why nursing school is challenging is because it involves learning about complicated nursing concepts and practical skills, then applying that information into diverse patient care scenarios — going well beyond memorizing facts. While it is challenging, nursing school is not impossible.How much retirement money do nurses get? ›
|Annual Salary||Monthly Pay|
However, don't take it for granted that nursing school will be much easier than medical school, especially in an accelerated format. Both offer a unique set of challenges and demand the utmost in student commitment and work rate. When comparing the different benefits offered through nursing school vs.Is 70 too old to become a nurse? ›
The answer is that going back to school to earn your nursing degree is an incredibly rewarding experience; you're never too old to become a nurse!What is the average age of a nursing student? ›
The average age of ADN nursing students at community colleges is 26-40 years old. BSN programs have an average age of early-mid 20s. Students in RN-to-BSN programs are typically in their late 30s.What are the significant roles of nurses in geriatric nursing? ›
Geriatric nurses provide healthcare services to the elderly, helping them maintain their quality of life. Although responsibilities vary by employment setting, these RNs may assess vital signs, administer medications, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to implement treatment plans.What are the nursing roles and responsibilities in geriatric care? ›
When working with their patients, a geriatric nurse will: Assess the patient's mental status and cognitive (thinking) skills. Understand patient's acute and chronic health issues. Discuss common health concerns, such as falls, incontinence, changing sleep patterns and sexual issues.
What does a geriatric nurse do? ›
Geriatric nurses do more than deliver healthcare services to older patients. They assist with administering medications, educating patients and caregivers, and guiding daily activities. Their patients can have a range of health conditions, including Alzheimer's, cancer, or congestive heart failure.Why do you want to be a geriatric nurse? ›
The American Geriatrics Society cites studies showing that working with older clients is one of the most satisfying career paths: “Geriatrics healthcare professionals cite their encounters with inspirational older adults, the deep and meaningful relationships they develop, and the typically steady work hours as ...How do you treat geriatric patients? ›
- Tip 1: Start with the Right Body Language. ...
- Tip 2: Exercise Patience. ...
- Tip 3: Show Proper Respect. ...
- Tip 4: Practice Active Listening. ...
- Tip 5: Build Rapport. ...
- Tip 6: Show Sincerity. ...
- Tip 7: Recognize Sensory Challenges. ...
- Tip 8: Ensure Comfort.
Gerontological nurses, also called geriatric nurses, care specifically for elderly patients. Professionals who specialize in this area often work in rehabilitation centers, hospice facilities, nursing homes, geriatricians' offices and patients' homes for one-on-one care.How long does it take to be a geriatric nurse? ›
At least two years of full-time RN experience. At least 2,00 hours of clinical experience in gerontological nursing within the past three years. At least 30 hours of continuing education in gerontological nursing in the last three years.Is geriatric nursing a good career? ›
The long-term career outlook for geriatric nurses is bright. As the population continues to age and more and more people transition into elder care facilities, more nurses will be needed to provide skilled nursing care.What is the difference between geriatrics and gerontology? ›
The Difference Between Gerontology and Geriatrics
Gerontology is multidisciplinary and is concerned with physical, mental, and social aspects and implications of aging. Geriatrics is a medical specialty focused on care and treatment of older persons.
Struggling with Self-Care and Loss of Independence
Geriatric patients may struggle with a loss of independence. Some elderly patients maintain a high level of independence, but others find themselves increasingly needing to rely on help to manage activities of daily living such as bathing, eating, and dressing.
Becoming a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner requires 6 to 8 years of education and nursing training. To be eligible for certification in gerontological care, you'll also have to gain experience working as an RN.What are the challenges of geriatric nursing? ›
physical restrictions, administrative difficulties, communication problems experienced with the patient or family caregiver, difficulties arising from insufficient knowledge, skills and experience in geriatric patient care, prejudice of older patients and family caregivers toward hospital environment and health ...
Why are geriatrics a career choice? ›
“Geriatrics is the most challenging and exciting area of patient care. The patients are the most ill, most complex, and the most dependent on our skills and wisdom for their persistence as independent living people. The opportunities for research in geriatrics are essentially unlimited.”Why is geriatric so important? ›
According to the National Council on Aging, 8 out of every 10 older people have at least one chronic disease — and many have more than one. Geriatric care fine-tunes disease management with medication, lifestyle changes, and other therapies to reduce symptoms and decrease the risk of serious complications.Why geriatric care is important? ›
Geriatric care is important because it allows senior patients to receive specialized care that understands and takes into consideration their unique needs.