The “baby boom” generation currently makes up around 78 million people, which is a staggering number that represents a third of the entire population of this country. The baby boomers were born just after the end of the Second World War, between 1946 and 1964. They have now aged considerably and because of their large number, they are changing the way the healthcare system is delivered.
As a result of this, there is a huge demand for those with a degree in geriatric nursing. Most people in the baby boom generation are now 60 years or older, and many are over the age of 65. Once people reach that age, they are classed as “geriatric”, and it means that they start to develop various complications associated with aging, including chronic illnesses. This, in turn, means that they have new and more healthcare demands.
Compared to other age groups, people over the age of 65 require a healthcare visit ten times as often. And when you consider that they represent a third of the population, and that more and more of them are becoming classed as geriatric, it quickly becomes clear that there is a huge need for geriatric nurses. But what are some of the other amazing reasons to pursue geriatric nursing, other than the fact that there is an estimated 16% increase in demand from 2014 to 2024?
- You can become a geriatric nurse at bachelor’s degree (BSN) level. The geriatric nurse is not an advanced practice nurse, so you don’t have to invest in a costly and lengthy master’s degree (MSN). Some states do have a geriatric nursing certification, which is very beneficial to obtain as proof of your proficiency.
- Salaries are quite substantial. According to Salary.com, geriatric nurses earn an average of $65,274 per year. Naturally, working in the healthcare industry comes with various other perks, such as excellent medical and dental insurance, overtime pay, rota pay, pensions, paid holidays, and more.
- You get to help people who are elderly, ensuring that as much as possible, they maintain the independence that they have gotten used to when they were younger. The baby boom generation is an emancipated generation and one in which people were empowered to look after themselves. Before then, 60 was old, but today, people who are 60 still engage in sports, travel the world, and go to school. As a geriatric nurse, you can help patients manage the reality that their bodies are becoming older, while at the same time continuing to empower them to be independent, which has a positive impact on their health.
- You will get to work with a wealth of medical conditions. Older adults have an increased chance of a range of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, osteoporosis, arthritis, and more. Hence, you will be able to learn a lot about human biology and medicine as well.
- A lot of the work of a geriatric nurse is preventative. Once the geriatric patients arrive at the point that they require end of life care, they will be seen to by other nurses, including hospice nurses. As a geriatric nurse, on the other hand, you get to work with people who feel as if they are still in the prime of their lives.
- You can work in a variety of different settings, including hospitals, hospices, home healthcare facilities, nursing homes, mental health facilities, pain clinics, and so on. Additionally, you could work as a travel nurse, which means you will have even greater variety in terms of where you get to work.
- There is a huge need for geriatric nurses within the voluntary and nonprofit sector, and particularly for disaster relief efforts abroad. When there is a natural disaster or there is a war zone, people often think of the children, but forget about the elderly. You can change that.
- You can focus your work on rehabilitation, which means that you will actually see people get better, rather than worse.
- You will also do a lot of routine work, like screenings and checkups. While this may sound mundane, it actually gives you an opportunity to build a relationship with your patients and get to know them personally.
- If you do complete an MSN degree and continue to work in geriatric nursing, then you may even prescribe medication, although this does depend on where you work.
- There is opportunity for growth, both educationally and professionally. You can work as a geriatric nurse with a bachelor’s degree only, but you always have the opportunity to move on to MSN or even doctorate degree level.
- It is a patient-facing, multifaceted job that is very structured. For many, this structure is one of the greatest benefits, because it means they know what to expect at the end of each day.
- You can move out of the direct care industry and move into the health insurance industry. Many elderly patients have private health insurance plans, and they need to change these once them once in a while. Geriatric nurses are there to help patients determine which new insurance policy is right for their needs. Whether you work for a healthcare setting or an insurance company, you will be an advocate for the patient, ensuring their rights are maintained and that they get the plans that are right for their personal and financial needs.
- Geriatric nurses are advocates for patients. Geriatric patients often start to struggle to manage their personal healthcare needs. They also often find it difficult to understand the jargon used by their medical team and health insurance agents. As a geriatric nurse, you are there to make sure that they do not get swamped with all the information, and that they are able to look after themselves as much as possible.
As you can see, geriatric nursing is a very wide and varied field of work. You can work directly or indirectly with people, and you will always endeavor to ensure that their needs are best met. The geriatric period is one that has many changes for many people, and being able to help them manage their concerns during that period is a very rewarding thing to do.
- Geriatric Nursing. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.journals.elsevier.com/geriatric-nursing
- Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015 – Nurse Practitioners. (2016, Mar. 30). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm