Master of Geriatric Health: Degree Overview

Some schools offer master's degree and/or certificate programs in geriatric health, but training is more common as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with an emphasis in geriatrics. Learn about the program, courses and job outlook.

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Essential Information

These programs let participants explore methods of avoiding and minimizing pain and illness, as well as ways to support the general well-being of older adults. Further specialization, such as in geriatric women's health or cardiovascular care, is offered at some schools. Supervised field work may be required.

Students seeking admission into a geriatric nurse practitioner MSN program need a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; certain coursework, such as statistics or research methods is usually necessary. Additionally, most academic institutions require candidates to have a current registered nurse (RN) license and a specified amount of clinical professional experience.

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Master's Degree in Geriatric Health

Students spend time in the classroom studying advanced theoretical nursing concepts and research. Some programs allow students to focus their studies on specialty areas. They apply this knowledge in clinical settings, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities and specialty clinics, where they work under the supervision of experienced professionals. Some common classes may include:

  • Disease prevention and Illness Management
  • Health assessment
  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Human development
  • Physiologic aging

Employment Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't collect data specifically on nurse practitioners, but it does collect data on RNs and include nurse practitioners in this category. Between 2014 and 2024, employment for RNs was expected to increase 16%, according to the BLS, because more people are living longer and are more likely to need health care. These aging populations are also seeking more outpatient care, which creates a higher demand for nurses in home health care, residential care facilities and nursing homes. The BLS also reported that advanced nurse practitioners should be in high demand, especially in areas lacking sufficient health care, such as urban and rural areas. Nurse practitioners can act as primary health care providers to those struggling to afford medical services.

According to BLS May 2015 data, all RNs made a median salary of $67,490. Those in the 75th percentile earned $82,490 annually, and those in the 90th percentile earned $101,630 each year. RNs working in specialty industries, other than psychiatric and substance abuse, earned an average salary of $76,310. As of August 2016, reported that nurse practitioners earned a median salary of $99,865.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

The BLS stated that nurse practitioners act as specialty and primary care providers who can administer medications, but the state regulates their ability to do so. Although nurse practitioners typically already hold an RN license prior to enrolling in the master's program, they can acquire additional voluntary certifications to validate their expertise and experience. One credentialing agency is the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which awards the Adult Nurse Practitioner certification. Eligible candidates for this certification have a valid RN license, an approved graduate degree and at least 500 hours of supervised clinical experience. Additionally, geriatric nurse practitioners can obtain certification from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Candidates must also meet the same eligibility requirements that the ANCC sets.

Individuals interested in advancing their clinical career can consider earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice that focuses on geriatric nursing. Doctor of Philosophy degrees in geriatric nursing are also available for those interested in obtaining research or academic teaching positions.

Students interested in geriatric health can earn a master's degree in the field to study specific areas of interest, as well as broad medical and health issues older generations face. Graduates can pursue advanced degrees and voluntary certifications to further their career.

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