Switching Specialty To Gerontological Nursing
As people age gradually, they struggle to keep up with the tasks of daily life, and this point serves as an indication to get adequate and consistent help. In the past, senior homes and care institutions were the prevalent options for the aging population. However, today, more people recognize the benefits of hiring a home caregiver or specialized medical professional.
The study of aging has recently become essential and widespread across the healthcare industry. The need to increase geriatric competence in the workforce has become apparent, and there is also the need to generate more interest in working with older adults. As such, we explore reasons for this demand and why nurses should opt for a gerontology specialization.
What is a gerontological nurse?
Gerontological nurses are nursing professionals who work directly with older adults to provide quality and specialized care that fosters a better quality of life. These professionals’ responsibility is to assist older patients in recovering from injuries and medical conditions by offering quality healthcare and developing patient-centered care plans.
The essential roles of gerontological nurses across the healthcare sector are to administer medication and assist with pain and illness management. However, they are also trained to engage in preventive care, ensuring that patients can avoid injuries and common medical conditions in the older population.
Gerontology is a specialist role in healthcare. As expected, professionals must obtain an advanced degree to transition from registered to gerontological nurses. Active registered nurses can explore online programs such as the UIndy online AGPCNP program to develop proficiency in advanced practice nursing and adult-gerontology primary care. Licensing, certification examination, and clinical experience, among other requirements, are needed to practice legally as a gerontological nurse.
Why is this specialty in high demand?
Nursing has always exhibited an impressive job outlook. However, if you wish to transition from generalist to specialist, it’s vital to discover an area of specialization that shows significant potential for growth. So, why gerontology?
Life expectancy globally has increased significantly due to improved living conditions and medical advancements addressing chronic diseases. Add this to declining fertility rates, and the aging population is certain to increase. According to the World Health Organization, people aged 60 upwards are predicted to increase from 605 million to 2 billion between 2000 and 2050.
The population of older adults is high and will only continue to rise. Hence, there is a demand for gerontological professionals to meet the health needs of this population. Furthermore, as the demand for nurses grows with no end in sight, this trend will inevitably translate into the gerontology specialty.
Reasons to consider gerontology as a specialty
If you are currently a registered nurse or looking to break into nursing, here are some reasons why you should opt for a specialization in gerontology.
Gerontological nurses across the globe have not held back on how financially and emotionally rewarding this specialty is. Assisting a patient through their journey to regain independence and live a quality life is the highlight of this career, and the relationships developed with patients and their families are also a significant source of emotional fulfillment.
Aside from the emotional aspect, gerontological nurses are among some of the most well-paid nursing professionals. Salary.com places the average annual income of these professionals between $68,169 and $87,029, depending on the state of practice and educational qualification. All in all, specializing in gerontology can make for an enriching career.
One significant benefit of pursuing gerontology as a specialty is the impressive career prospects. Nurse practitioners, including those specialized in gerontology, have been ranked as the second-best job in America in 2022 by the US News & World Report. While the job outlook remains impressive in the US, it follows suit in many other countries.
The growth is likely to remain strong for obvious reasons. Firstly, the increasing rate of the aging population across the globe necessitates the need for more professionals to meet the demand. Furthermore, the autonomy and flexibility associated with these professionals make them ideal for various other medical demands.
The scope of gerontology has constantly been expanded with time to include duties that make this specialty extremely engaging. Now, gerontological nurses focus on preventive healthcare to maintain patients’ health. Their primary responsibilities currently include routine checkups and screening, administering medications, patient rehabilitation, and implementing treatment and pain management plans.
To fully engage in the scope of practice, professionals develop several competencies that make them relevant and highly regarded in the healthcare sector. These include but are not limited to medical competencies, communication skills, a deep understanding of ethics, and the ability to assess patients’ physical and psychological health.