Online training in geriatric health may be obtained through master's degree or graduate certificate programs. Many social work institutions and industry organizations also provide geriatric health training via online instruction and coursework.
In a fully online college program, students generally have access to a thorough information base and a convenient coursework timeline, and courses are usually taught by leading experts on aging. Online students have the option to take courses at their own pace or take full semester loads that quickly lead to their degree goals. Prior to enrollment in a graduate-level program, applicants need to hold a bachelor's degree.
A graduate certificate in geriatric health is one way that post-baccalaureate students may further their education in a short period of time. In fact, most of these programs are designed so that students may finish within one calendar year. Examples of certificate titles include:
- Foundation in Aging
- Aging in the Community
- Geriatric Mental Health
- Geriatric Care Management
Online geriatric health certificate programs typically include courses in gerontology, psychology and occupational therapy. Class topics often include those listed below:
- Issues in aging
- Geriatric assessment
- Mental health and aging issues
- Substance abuse in older adults
- Legal issues
- Fear of falling
- Alzheimer's and other age-specific diseases
Online master's degree programs in geriatric health and related fields of study generally require up to four years to complete. However, the reading-intensive programs are self-paced and, consequently, may be finished sooner depending upon the student's schedule.
Coursework in master's degree programs commonly covers the relationship between government policy, economics and aging. Specifically, an online Master of Science in Geriatric Health program may include the following types of classes:
- Epidemiology of aging
- Geriatric health care law
- Managing long-term care organizations
Many students find that completing online certificates is helpful in pursuing employment as geriatric social workers and personal care aides. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted faster-than-average job growth of 26% for personal care aides over the 2014-2024 decade due in part to an increasingly active but aging population (www.bls.gov). In 2015, the median annual wage for personal care aides was $20,980, according to the BLS. PayScale.com reported that geriatric social workers earned a median of $44,381 as of October 2016.
In the growing field of geriatric health care, employers are more frequently requiring advanced degrees in geriatric health services. Those who complete an online master's degree program may pursue managerial positions. PayScale.com reported that geriatric care managers earned a median annual salary of $48,446 as of October 2016; meanwhile, health services managers, another career option for graduates, earned a median of $64,952.
Geriatrics professionals can gain additional knowledge and stay abreast of current topics in the field by looking to institutions that specialize in geriatric care and social work. Webinars are often available and other resources may also be offered, including patient care simulations and clinical care recommendations and guidelines. Continuing education activities may be geared toward physicians, nurses, psychiatrists or related health care professionals and may or may not count toward professional development credits.
As a result of the growing elderly population, there is increasing demand for professionals with expertise in geriatric health. Online graduate certificate and master's degree programs in the field cover aging-related issues in order to prepare individuals for careers as personal care aides and geriatric care managers, among other options.