Geriatric Charge Nurse: Education Requirements and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a geriatric charge nurse. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Geriatric charge nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who manage the staff and nursing care in facilities with geriatric wards or patients. They are required to first obtain the necessary education and licensing as a registered nurse, and then complete additional training in geriatric care. The job growth outlook for registered nurses is much faster than the job market in general.

Essential Information

A geriatric charge nurse is the supervisor in charge of the nursing staff in a geriatric ward or care facility. Nurses working in this specialization need specific training or certification in health care for geriatric, or elderly, patients. A charge nurse also needs experience as a supervisor. Voluntary certification is available for geriatric nurses. This certification may help charge nurses improve both their job opportunities and skillsets.

Required Education Master's degree
Additional Requirements State nursing license; professional certification may be required by some employers
Projected Job Growth* (2014-2024) 16% for all registered nurses
Median Salary* (2015) $67,490 annually for registered nurses in nursing care facilities

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Geriatric Charge Nurse Career Info

A geriatric charge nurse focuses on providing patient care that helps older adults maintain and improve their physical and mental health. A main focus in this area of medicine is encouraging older adults to be as independent as possible, by helping them cope with mental or physical limitations. For a charge nurse, duties also include managing staff and ensuring that the facility is operating properly. A geriatric charge nurse may work in a nursing home, long-term care facility, hospital or in other place where elderly people go for care.

Geriatric Charge Nurse Education Requirements

A geriatric charge nurse must first become a registered nurse (RN). The typical education for an RN is usually an associate's or bachelor's degree program that teaches students about the nursing profession and includes courses on topics such as patient care and medical documentation. After receiving a degree, students must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed registered nurses.

After gaining work experience in the field of geriatrics, additional education is required for advancement into the role of a geriatric charge nurse. A graduate program in nursing provides the education in administration and patient care that a nurse needs to become a charge nurse.

Certification Information

Certification, specifically certification in the area of geriatrics, is not mandatory. However, certification allows nurses to prove their skills in geriatrics and may help them advance to a charge nurse position. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) provides certification in gerontology and other nursing specialties.

The ANCC nursing certification examination in gerontology covers topics such as aging, elderly health issues, communicating with the elderly and special concerns in older adults. Nurses who have a bachelor's degree can earn the Registered Nurse, Board Certified (RN-BC) in Gerontological Nursing credential. Other ANCC credentials in gerontology include the Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (GNP-BC) and the Clinical Nurse Specialist in Gerontology (GCNS-BC).

Salary Statistics and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not differentiate between geriatric charge nurses and registered nurses in general. The BLS reports that the median annual salary for registered nurses working in nursing care facilities was $67,490 in 2015. The BLS projects that employment of registered nurses as a group is expected to increase by about 16% between 2014 and 2024. There is considerable demand for geriatric nurses due to the increasing senior population. Based on the 2010 U.S. Census, the population of individuals aged 65 and over grew faster than the U.S. population as a whole from 2000-2010. According to the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University College of Nursing, less than one percent of nurses in the U.S. have certification in gerontology.

Geriatric charge nurses supervise nursing care of the elderly in various facilities. They must be licensed as RNs and can complete a master's degree to qualify for these positions. Certification in this specialty is available, but not always required. Registered nurse median annual salaries are about $68,000.

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