What is a Geriatric Nurse?

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November 5th, 2010

The healthcare field accounts for a large portion of the job market, with over 14 million people working in healthcare in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those workers, over 2 million are nurses, which work in a number of different specialities and departments within the healthcare field. Additionally, over the next several years, the bureau estimates that over 3 million new health care jobs will be added, with nursing jobs accounting for over 500,000 of them. One of those fields are nurses that specialize in geriatric nursing.

A geriatric nurse is a nurse who specializes, works with, and cares for geriatric people, or people that are aging. Caring for the elderly can be extremely complex, because as they age it is very important to keep up with routine tests, protect their health, and teach them to cope with the changes they are experiencing. Due to the complexity, preventative care, and ailing health of aging individuals, they usually require close care and personal attention. Geriatric nurses address physical and mental issues involved with aging people, and work to promote wellness and successful aging as well. They evaluate patients, discuss common issues and health concerns, explain and organize medication for their patients, and help with recommending resources for any outside help needed.

While also providing general care and services to the elderly such as helping with everyday needs, and keeping them comfortable, they must also be able to offer emotional support. While older patients can be a joy to work with, others can be depressed or angry, and at times, isolated from the rest of their family. They must display patience and compassion for patients that suffer from dementia, and other mental health disorders. Geriatric nurses are commonly known to consult and offer help with their patient’s families as well as caregivers, if their patient has one.

Geriatric nurses meet the requirements of a registered nurse, but have also taken additional training to qualify them to work with the specific needs of older patients. Their additional training may come from specialized training in geriatrics, a certification in geriatric care, or a gerontological nursing degree. They can work in a number of different settings including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, home healthcare services, nursing and assisted living facilities, retirement communities, and in private for patients in their homes. In addition geriatric nurses, especially those that work in hospitals, may work closely with physicians and other nurses.

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