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Geriatric Nursing Certification and Certificate Programs

Learn about certificate programs in geriatric nursing and what the requirements are for certification. Read on to learn about required courses, internships and employment projections for geriatric nurses.

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Essential Information

Geriatric nursing is the field of providing nursing care to the elderly. Professional certification as a geriatric nurse calls for experience in geriatric nursing and completion of geriatric nurse education courses such as through a certificate program. Certificates in geriatric nursing are almost always offered at the graduate level. At the very least, applicants must hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Some programs, however, are offered only as post-master's certificates.

The overall goal of these programs is to equip students who have a nursing background with the specific skills required to treat elderly patients. Sometimes, nurses combine specialties. For example, one might specialize in geriatric oncology, which treats elderly patients who have cancer.

In addition to general nursing skills, students learn about the psychological, physiological and social changes that occur when a patient ages. Clinical experience is often required. Programs also equip students with knowledge of special needs common to elderly patients, including how routine medical procedures may change when treating these patients.

Educational Prerequisites

Prerequisites vary depending on the program. All require students to hold a BSN, and most will require a master's degree in nursing. One's high school diploma, high school transcripts, standardized test scores and letters of recommendation factor into acceptance into the BSN; that bachelor's degree and the accompanying college transcripts, plus standardized test scores, letters of recommendation and a resume will be considered by graduate programs.

Program Coursework

Coursework in these programs usually combines didactic learning with clinical hours and interaction with elderly patients. Internships may also be a part of some programs. Here are some courses that may appear in the curriculum:

  • Changes in aging
  • Psychology of aging
  • Ethics
  • Common age-related disorders
  • Sociology of aging

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( predicts that the employment rate for nurses is going to rise 26% between 2010 and 2020, which is considerably faster than the national average for other professions. Geriatric nurses may be in even higher demand because this growth is largely due to an aging population. As of May 2012, the median annual salary for nurses was $65,470.

Continuing Education and Professional Certification Information

The only nationally recognized certification for geriatric care is the one offered by the American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC). This certification is only for registered nurses who have at least two years nursing experience, at least 2,000 hours of geriatric nursing experience and who have completed at least 30 hours of geriatric nursing education.

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