Geriatric courses provide students with an understanding of health and disease in later life, and provide an excellent way to become qualified for a career in nursing or, more broadly, health care. To succeed in a career in geriatrics you also need: an interest in working with older adults; excellent communication skills; and patience, sensitivity, empathy, and compassion.
Geriatrics is sometimes confused with gerontology, and although there is a connection, there is also a difference. This page provides information about the courses, where they can be studied, what the job prospects are, and more.
What is geriatrics and is it the same as gerontology?
Geriatrics and gerontology are different, even though a program in one may contain courses about the other. Geriatrics is the study of health and disease in later life, and the health welfare of care givers to the elderly. Gerontology, on the other hand, is the study of the aging process, changes in people as they age, the effects of our aging population on society, and the application of this knowledge to policies and programs.
As a result of the multidisciplinary focus of geriatric programs, it is usual to obtain geriatric training and knowledge in the context of other professional fields, e.g., psychology, sociology, social work, medicine, nursing. Online aging and geriatrics programs may also provide the resource management skills required to manage long-term care facilities.
What is studied in geriatric courses?
Geriatrics is a broad field of studies, drawing on many disciplines. Thus, online geriatric education and training would include psychology (especially dealing with death), anatomy and physiology, legal and ethical issues of dying, and end of life care. You would also learn elderly health services, health care management, long-term care, epidemiology in aging, care and wellness for the elderly, and how to identify and assess senior health and social services needs. Some states require professionals to attain licensure or certification, and the requirements vary from state to state.
Online programs in geriatrics can be found at all levels from Certificate to Doctoral level, most often as a specialism within other programs. Field experience is often a required component. In some professions, such as social work, counseling, and nursing, continuing education is required to maintain a license or certificate.
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What are the career prospects?
Geriatric program graduates can be found in various settings for geriatric care, including: hospitals, care facilities, social service agencies, geriatric residential facilities, government agencies, aging research laboratories, and community agencies. The actual jobs you qualify for depends on experience and the level of the academic qualification you have. Thus, with a master in geriatric you are qualified to become a skilled administrator, planner, and practitioner in geriatrics, e.g., geriatrics nurse. A PhD with a specialism in geriatrics prepares you for a career in geriatric research, teaching, administration, or clinical practice. You can specialize in such areas as: social geriatrics, geriatric social work, geriatric medicine, biomedical geriatrics, or geriatric nursing.
The United States of Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that in view of the aging population, opportunities for geriatrics professionals will continue to grow. The income level with a geriatrics online degree varies depending on whether one is a paraprofessional – aide or assistant – to whether one is a nurse, doctor, or geriatric care manager. As a registered nurse you can earn around $52,000 per year.
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