The elderly population in the United States is growing, which means more and more people need specialized medical attention. Doctors and nurses trained to work with older patients are facing growing job opportunities as a result of this population change. Attending one of the best nursing colleges to become a gerontology nursing specialist can open up a world of possibilities to you in the healthcare field.
So what exactly is gerontology? It is the study of the elderly population and how people age. It focuses on physical, cognitive, social, and psychological changes a person experiences as they get older and allows nurses to diagnose and provide treatment for severe and chronic diseases. Nurses who study this specialty within the nursing field have a wide range of job opportunities because of this variety of focuses and the many aspects of an elderly persons life. Gerontology nurses also have knowledge of the legal, cultural, ethical, and financial issues surrounding aging patients and their families. Working with the elderly is different from working with other patients as gerontology is frequently focused on improving the quality of patients lives rather than saving their lives.
When researching nurse career information and deciding on a program in which to study gerontology, you should look into both bachelor and masters degree programs. Most nurses with a bachelors degree in gerontology work in hospitals where elderly patients come because of emergencies or to stay for short periods of time. You could also work in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or long-term care facility. Management or administrative positions within a hospital or other facility that caters to the elderly will also be open to you.
If you choose to purse masters degree in gerontology, there will be even more work environments open to you as a nurse in the field. Those with a masters degree are most sought after outside of healthcare facilities they often work for special interest groups, as government employees in certain departments, or as researchers for organizations, all of which work specifically for the benefit of the elderly. If you have a masters degree, youre also more likely to be hired as an instructor for a nursing program. The following schools offer some of the best nursing programs online for both bachelors and masters degrees:
The University of Southern California
Once you complete a degree program in gerontology at a registered nursing school, you may also choose to become professionally certified by an outside organization. Some employers require this of nurses, while others leave it up to you whether you want to be certified or not. In addition to your degree, you must also have completed some clinical experience during your time in school in order to be eligible for certification. The American Nurses Credentialing Center provides the certification for gerotological nurses.