There are many career specializations as a gerontology nurse available for students who have completed graduate level coursework. Most gerontology nurses start out as RNs with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a few years of relevant experience. Here are some of the most common gerontology nurse career specializations.
Home Care Nursing
Home health aides take care of the basic needs of incapacitated people who are physically or mentally ill. Home care gerontology nurses are specialists who supervise geriatric and home health aides as they help their clients with meals, chores, personal hygiene and basic functioning. Home care gerontology nurses spend their day traveling to different locations to check in with clients and follow up with attending health care providers. Home care gerontology nurses often work with clients who have difficult medical problems or demanding medical needs. They do everything from administering medications to setting up medical equipment to performing regular progress assessments. These health care professionals work independently without supervision, so they must be responsible and dependable.
Long-Term Care Nursing
Almost all long-term care gerontology nurses major in gerontology nursing. These program train nurses how to care for the elderly’s ongoing medical needs, such as permanent physical therapy, and personal needs, such as those related to socializing, finances and mental health. Long-term care gerontology nurses work with on-site health care staff to care for residents. They prepare and delegate medications, document health status changes and report major concerns to nursing administrators. They collaboratively develop care plans with interdisciplinary team members and supervise Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Long-term care gerontology nurses educate residents, caregivers and family members. They maintain communication with physicians regarding resident condition changes and execute orders from physicians as required.
Nursing Facility Management
Gerontology nurses with a master’s degree and a couple years of supervisory experience may become nursing facility supervisors and administrators, according to the National Gerontological Nursing Association. Most of these health care professionals residential and assisted-living facilities, but some work in hospital gerontology departments. Nursing facility managers must ensure that all state regulations are followed and that employees are properly trained. They use their health care experience and knowledge to perform pre-admission assessments that evaluate the potential resident’s cognitive and physical health as well as functional independence. Upon admission, they develop a resident plan, recommend services and provide resources. They maintain residential, regulatory and staffing documentation.
Medical Social Worker
Medical social workers are professionals who typically have previous experience as health care providers. They help patients and families manage medical issues, difficult relationships, environmental challenges and personal problems. Gerontology nurses who want to advance their career may work as a gerontology social worker. These professionals will assist adult children take care of older parents through teaching classes, providing advice and directing to government resources. For example, they may help older patients with overwhelming medical bills locate affordable housing or long term care options.
Almost all gerontology nurses have a general bachelor’s degree in nursing and specialized master’s degree in gerontology nursing. These include programs for gerontology nurse specialists (GNS), clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) and gerontology nurse practitioners (GNPs). Gerontology nurse specialist programs generally require two years of RN experience with at least 2,000 hours of gerontology practice. Clinical nurse specialist programs require students to have at least 500 hours of supervised practice and coursework in advanced pharmacology and pathophysiology. Gerontology nurse practitioner programs have similar requirements as CNS programs, but also expect students to have training in disease prevention, health promotion and disease management.
Related Resource: Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Nursing (MSN)-Gerontology Degree Programs
Career specializations as a gerontology nurse also include teaching, public health and administrative jobs.