Prospective students will need a postsecondary education, preferably related to nursing, and a current nursing license. Geriatric nursing programs commonly include residency and clinical components. Nursing schools offer master's degree programs with a specialization in geriatric nursing leading to positions as geriatric clinical nurse specialists or nurse practitioners. Graduate certificate and Ph.D. programs are also available.
Various organizations have partnered with schools offering programs in geriatric nursing. The Association for Gerontology in Higher Education is one example. Another example, the Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity website, coordinated by the American Academy of Nursing, provides various resources, including a list of schools that are part of its Geriatric Investment Program; the program seeks to advance quality approaches to healthcare for the elderly.
Common topics in courses will include:
- Health history
- Decision-making theory
- Patient analysis
- Personalized care and management
- Clinical application
List of Courses
Foundations of Gerontological Care Course
This course focuses primarily on the health and well-being of older adults. Students gain an understanding of various theories of aging and interventions, as well as examine past research that may be applicable to geriatric care and disease prevention. Some programs give students the opportunity to design their own health promotion campaigns.
Geriatric Health Assessment Course
This class broadens a student's approach to health assessments of the elderly beyond just physical evaluations. Advanced critical thinking skills are developed as other factors, such as age, gender and cultural background, are taken into consideration. The biological, physical, cognitive and psychological changes associated with aging are explored, with students learning to utilize this information when evaluating a patient's current health status and future health risks.
Advanced Gerontological Nursing Course
Nursing students learn about advanced healthcare options available for older adults with complex health problems. Focus is placed on frail patients with chronic and acute illnesses. This course also covers strategies for managing health issues and patient limitations in long-term care settings.
Perspectives on Aging Course
In this class, an interdisciplinary approach is taken in studying human development through the adult years, including old age. Various processes of aging as they pertain to the physical, psychological and social - and how these factors interrelate - are explored. The complexities of an aging society with chronic health problems and effects on healthcare and available social resources are also investigated.
End of Life Care Course
Although not mandatory in most programs, this commonly offered elective deals with issues of death and dying from the perspectives of patient, caregiver and outsider. Students learn effective strategies to help friends and family members cope during the bereavement period.