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Geriatric Staff Nurses

Geriatric nurses provide patient care for elderly patients. 50 percent of hospital patients are 65 years or older, but geriatric nurses account for 1 percent of nurses.

Geriatric nurses are in high demand since Americans now have higher life expectancies than in the past. Likewise, millions of baby boomers are beginning to retire. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that 88 million Americans will be 65 or older by 2050. The following are typical duties of geriatric nurses:
  • Evaluating patients' cognitive skills and emotional state
  • Understanding various health issues, especially chronic pain
  • Discussing health problems with patients, including arthritis, sleeping problems, and age related problems
  • Organizing multiple medications for patients
  • Teaching patients about disease prevention
  • Teaching patients how to take advantage of available resources
  • Providing other patient services
Elderly people struggling with health problems often improve after making simple dietary and lifestyle changes or obtaining assistive equipment, such as walkers. Geriatric nurses assist doctors design life improvement plans and teach patients how to properly follow them.

Working Conditions
Geriatric nurses are employed at retirement communities, senior citizen centers, rehabilitation centers, assisted living facilities, and hospitals. Many assist patients at their homes. Geriatric nurses work closely with occupational and physical therapists, nursing aides, social workers, and doctors.

Currently, geriatric nurses are in demand to meet the medical needs of the aging population, particularly nurses providing home care services and working in assisted living facilities. Spanish speaking nurses are also in high demand.

Geriatric nurses usually make more than $50,000 a year, but annual salaries are affected by education, experience, and geographic location.

Career Training and Education
Geriatric nurses should enjoy assisting the elderly. This career is for empathetic, patient, and considerate individuals. They must also be good communicators since they frequently meet with patients' family members.

A great way to prepare for geriatric nursing careers is to volunteer at hospices, assisted living facilities, or senior centers. Volunteers typically get a feel for whether they can handle the job and whether it would be enjoyable.

Geriatric nurses are registered nurses. All registered nurses hold college degrees in nursing, at the associate's, bachelor's, and graduate levels. Registered nurses are also required to pass the NCLEX-RN examination before practicing professionally.

After acquiring some experience as a registered nurse, you can complete a certification program in geriatric nursing. Nurses who earn graduate degrees can qualify as Geriatric Clinical Nurse Practitioners. You should also earn a graduate degree if you're interested in research or administrative positions.
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