Although life expectancies continue to increase, the elderly still often need assistance in their daily lives. Geriatric nurses specialise in the care of elderly individuals and understand the challenges they face in maintaining respectable quality of life. Job opportunities are plentiful for registered nurses, especially for those who specialise in fields like geriatrics.
To become a geriatric nurse, applicants must have a degree in nursing, whether it is a Bachelor of Science in nursing, an associate degree in nursing or a diploma. They must be licensed by passing the National Licensure Examination. Requirements vary by state.
Continuing education is available for nurses to specialise in geriatric care. Coursework in gerontology focuses on how people age, giving an overview of biology, sociology and psychology. Nurses are also educated on the resources available to the elderly. Other courses teach nurses how to communicate with and listen to the elderly and their families. They learn about the legal issues involved in creating a care plan for elderly patients.
Specific coursework is available on how to handle patients suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Nurses are also taught how to manage multiple prescriptions and drug interaction.
Nurses must be caring individuals, especially those who work with the elderly. They must also be emotionally stable in order to handle human suffering and sometimes death. They must be able to stand for extended periods of time, and strong enough to assist their patients who have limited mobility.
Geriatric nurses work to promote healthy living styles in the elderly. They conduct physical exams and manage diseases. Geriatric nurses establish patient care plans and administer medications based on prescriptions and the care plan. They must also educate the families of their patients to encourage self-care and family care. Geriatric nurses take their patients’ blood pressures and other vital signs.
Registered nurses made an average annual salary of £40,592 in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Full-time nurses are eligible for medical benefits and retirement packages. Entry-level geriatric nurses earn an average of £31,200 annually in their first four years in this speciality, according to PayScale.com. After 10 yeas, they may earn £33,800 annually.
Location will cause salaries to vary, as those geographic areas that are more heavily populated will require more health care workers.
Positions for registered nurses are predicted to grow by 22 per cent between 2008 and 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of older people is also expected to grow, so geriatric nurses will be in demand to meet the need for elderly care.