Master's degree programs in geriatric nursing require students to understand the unique conditions that chronically affect the elderly, such as bowel and bladder problems, bed sores and more. Following completion of a master's program, students pursue nationally recognized certification from an organization such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (http://www.aanp.org), certifying their status as gerontological nurse practitioners (GNPs). The master's degree is one of the more common ways that people enter the field of geriatric nursing.
Certain programs exist that allow registered nurses without their baccalaureates to complete both the bachelor's and master's degree as part of one accelerated program. For most programs, however, a bachelor's degree in nursing in required. Many schools also require separate admissions into their graduate school first and then their geriatric nursing program. This program takes two years to complete.
Master's Degree in Geriatric Nursing
Geriatric nursing shares many classes with other nursing programs. Students learn various aspects of anatomy, medical practice and science as it applies to care for elderly patients. General courses often include advanced anatomy and clinical research seminars. Other gerontology-specific courses include:
- Advanced pathophysiology
- Geriatric nursing strategies
- Clinical geriatric nursing
- Health throughout the life span
- Chronic illness in adults
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In addition to working in hospitals, nurse practitioners who specialize in geriatric nursing are also employed in assisted living facilities, nursing homes and elderly care clinics. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that registered nurse employment is projected to increase 16% between the years 2014-2024, corresponding to the increase in the elderly population. According to BLS figures, the average annual salary for a nurse practitioner was $101,260 in May 2015.
The John A. Hartford Foundation has been a driving force in the development of strong geriatric nursing programs. As such, the organization funds numerous scholarships for students doing research in geriatric nursing and pre-doctoral nurses who intend to work in the field of gerontology. Earning a doctorate can place geriatric nurses in fields of research or management.
Though a nurse practitioner master's degree in gerontology is generally all that is required to enter the field of geriatrics, certifications are also available. The National Gerontological Nursing Association (http://www.ngna.org) offers a geriatric nurse certification to further students' desirability to employers within the industry.
Students who earn a master's degree in geriatric nursing will learn about how to care for patients of the elderly population after earning a bachelor's degree in nursing. Certifications are available for students upon completion of schooling.