What is a Geriatric Nurse?

To become a geriatric nurse or gerontological nurse requires advanced study and practice in nursing after earning an R.N. degree and license. The specific requirements in each area may vary, but all tend to be targeted on helping the nurse become expert in caring for aging populations, usually defined as 65 or older, in a variety of medical settings. Given the higher need for medical care in aging populations, geriatric nursing is a field always in demand. It tends to command a reasonably high salary, and can be an attractive field for many nurses.

The person seeking to become a geriatric nurse might start as early as high school by obtaining good grades in math and science. It can also help to perform some volunteer work in medical settings to determine if geriatric nursing is the best placement. Volunteering at places like convalescent homes or in hospitals could be of use.

After high school, those interested in nursing should plan to get a bachelor’s degree in registered nursing. There may be several registered nurse designation degrees. Some people receive a BRN (bachelor of registered nursing) and others get a BSRN (bachelor of science in registered nursing). If people might plan to later get a master’s degree or if they intend to become a geriatric nurse practitioner, schools that offer the BSRN could be the better choice.

Once a nurse has completed school, he or she usually takes board examinations in the region that allows him or her to get a license and obtain work. The next step to become a geriatric nurse tends to involve accruing a certain amount of work experience that is 51% or more focused on caring for aging populations. With this work experience, which usually takes two to three years to acquire, nurses can then take examinations that could give them certification in geriatric nursing.

Prior to taking exams to become a geriatric nurse, nurses may also have to fulfill continuing education requirements. There are schools that offer class in geriatric nursing that are geared toward passing exams and meeting education requirements. Once all requirements are met, and it should be noted that these are different depending on region, nurses can get their desired certification. Certification definitely maximizes employment potential and may also mean nurses are hired at a higher salary.

Many continuing education study opportunities to become a geriatric nurse are available from online universities, which can be highly convenient. Students should verify that any university they investigate is accredited and is accepted by local or regional nursing boards as a legitimate place to fulfill education requirements. Online university studies are attractive because of their flexibility, which usually means nurses can continue to work while advancing on the path to become a geriatric nurse. //Amy Smart