Undergraduate and Graduate Nursing School Programs in Geriatric Care

RNs that specialize in care for aging adults are known as Geriatric or Gerontological RNs. Nursing students receive some form of education in this patient population at every level of school.

Undergraduate Experience with Elderly Patients

During both an Associates of Nursing and Bachelor of Science in Nursing program RN candidates are exposed as part of a basic nursing curriculum to care for older adults, or geriatric nursing. At the same time they are also trained to perform basic assessments for patients along the entire lifespan—neonate, child, adolescent, adult, and aging adult.

During required undergraduate nursing clinicals students are required to gain supervised experience with a diverse array of patients, including older adults.

Graduate Nursing School Gerontology Programs

RNs in a Masters of Science in Nursing program wishing to pursue gerontological nursing as a distinct specialty with experience already in this area may choose from the following:

  • MSN Gerontological Nurse Practitioner – as if a Nurse Practitioner were not skilled and specialized enough this Advanced Practice RN has the option at the graduate nursing school level to concentrate on geriatric patients.
  • MSN Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) – a CNS is already one of the most skilled RN specialties as it is. This RN expert may provide independent clinical care in almost any patient care setting. In this case he or she pursues an even deeper level of specialty with the Gerontology addition.
  • Post-Grad Certificate in Gerontology Nursing – MSN RNs may opt to add on certificate programs that distill core specialty courses. In this case grad-level RNs with any other specialty may qualify for the Post-Grad Cert.

Geriatric Nursing curriculum may include:

  • Management of Common Health Problems in the Elderly
  • Advanced
  • Advanced Diagnostics and Assessment in the Elderly
  • Evidence-Based Research in Gerontology
  • Practicum/Clinical Rotations

Career Track for Gerontological RNs

Entry-level RNs usually begin work in hospitals. There many decide where they might like to specialize. Those interested in working with geriatric patients might opt to gain experience in an Acute Care or Critical Care area then go to work in a nursing home, long term care, or continuing care facility—all looking for RNs capable of working well with aging adults.

Advanced practice nurses may practice independently, in nursing homes and long term care where they may serve as nurse leaders and decision makers. Other options include outside of bedside patient care, as palliative care nurses, case managers, educators, in rehabilitation centers and even veteran’s hospitals.

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