Geriatric Nursing Certification and Certificate Programs
Registered nurses can take on a number of specialties, including geriatric nursing. This specialty is in growing demand due to a rapidly aging population and an increased demand for medical professionals in general.
Certificate in Geriatric Nursing
Certifications for this specialty are for registered nurses only. To specialize in and prepare for certification in geriatric care, students may consider certificate programs. Certificates in geriatric nursing are almost always offered at the graduate level. At the very least, applicants must hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Many, however, are offered only as post-master's certificates. Additionally, it is common for those already working as registered nurses to pursue this certificate.
The overall goal of these programs is to equip students who have a nursing background with the specific skills required to treat elderly patients. Sometimes, nurses combine specialties. For example, one might specialize in geriatric oncology, which treats elderly patients who have cancer.
In addition to general nursing skills, students learn about the psychological, physiological and social changes that occur when a patient ages. Programs also equip students with a knowledge of special needs common to elderly patients, including how routine medical procedures may change when treating these patients.
Prerequisites vary depending on the program. All require students to hold a BSN, and most will require a master's degree in nursing. One's high school diploma, high school transcripts, standardized test scores and letters of recommendation factor into acceptance into the BSN; that bachelor's degree and the accompanying college transcripts, plus standardized test scores, letters of recommendation and a resume will be considered by graduate programs.
Coursework in these programs usually combines didactic learning with clinical hours and interaction with elderly patients. Internships may also be a part of some programs. Here are some courses that may appear in the curriculum:
- Changes in aging
- Psychology of aging
- Common age-related disorders
- Sociology of aging
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) predicts that the employment rate for nurses is going to rise 22% between 2008 and 2018, which is considerably faster than the national average for other professions. Geriatric nurses may be in even higher demand because this growth is largely due to an aging population. As of May, 2008, the median annual salary for nurses was $62,450.
Continuing Education and Professional Certification Information
The only nationally recognized certification for geriatric care is the one offered by the American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC). This certification is only for registered nurses who have at least two years nursing experience, at least 2,000 hours of geriatric nursing experience and who have completed at least 30 hours of geriatric nursing education.
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