Applicants are generally required to have registered nursing experience and GRE scores. Some schools offer joint bachelor's and master's degree programs in nursing with gerontology specializations. Most master's degree programs in geriatric health can be finished in two years of full-time study. Geriatric health degree programs are often part of either a school's health psychology or nursing department. Students learn about health and wellness issues affecting the elderly through courses covering psychosocial issues, illness prevention and primary care. An extensive clinical practice requirement allows students to gain hands-on experience. Students also develop their research skills in a master's program. Online courses and programs are available in some schools.
Master of Science in Geriatric Health
Applicants to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs specializing in geriatric health often need to hold either a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree or have previous nursing experience. Some programs allow registered nurses (RNs) to complete an RN-to-MSN program, allowing them to earn a bachelor's degree and master's degree in the same program. Programs in geriatric health learn offer theories and methods for caring for the elderly. Programs usually require students to complete practical courses that include a hands-on component to ensure that they are ready to join the workforce after graduation. Geriatric health master's degree courses include:
- Primary care for geriatric patients
- Psychosocial issues affecting the elderly
- Geriatric nursing practicum
- Research methods in geriatric nursing
- Illness prevention for the elderly
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Careers in geriatric health involve working with elderly patients to treat and prevent illnesses and disease. Most people who hold a master's degree in geriatric health work as registered nurses or nurse practitioners and are employed in hospitals, physicians' offices or nursing homes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 16% job growth is expected for registered nurses between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also stated that the mean annual salary for registered nurses was $71,000 in 2015. Those working as nurse practitioners earned a mean annual wage of $101,260 that same year.
Continuing Education Information
Each state has unique requirements that must be met by people who earn a master's degree in geriatric health before they can legally work with patients. For example, one common requirement for nurses is that they must earn a passing grade on the national licensing examination (NCLEX-RN). In some cases, however, this requirement has been met before even enrolling in a master's degree program. Once employed, students may be required to keep up with changing technologies and policies in geriatric health by taking continuing education courses at a nearby college or at a university's satellite location.
Nurses who earn a master's degree in geriatric health will do so through classroom instruction and hands-on experience that focuses on courses such as research methods in geriatric nursing and illness prevention for the elderly. Students must be aware of their state's unique requirements as they will vary with licensing requirements.