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What Does a Geriatric Nurse Do?

The practitioners of geriatric medicine look for signs of mental decline in their patients.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 21 June 2014
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A geriatric nurse provides medical care for elderly patients. This type of nurse may provide a variety of services, caring for patients with acute and chronic conditions, helping those with injuries, working to prepare patients for surgery, and caring for them after surgery. A person in this field may work not only with elderly patients who have physical conditions, but also with those who have mental health or clarity issues. Geriatric nurses also help to educate and support patients and their families.

Geriatric nurses receive training that helps them meet the unique needs of elderly patients. For example, they often work with patients who have experienced the loss of some mobility or have chronic pain. They may also work with patients who have developed problems with hearing or seeing as well as they used to. Often, geriatric nurses help patients who have trouble controlling their bladders or remembering events. Their job is not limited to caring for people with such conditions and difficulties, however; they may provide care for a wide range of other conditions as well.

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Part of a geriatric nurse's job is assisting a doctor as he examines patients or performs procedures. This type of nurse may also perform tests on patients, such as blood tests, and administer medications in keeping with a doctor’s instructions. Sometimes geriatric nurses also help develop plans for patient care and teach both patients and their loved ones the specifics of medical conditions and how to care for them at home. They also provide support for people adjusting to necessary lifestyle changes or dealing with troubling diagnoses.

There are many settings in which a geriatric nurse may work. Some work in hospitals, urgent-care centers, and other types of medical care facilities. Others work in nursing homes, rehabilitative centers, adult daycare centers, and assisted living facilities. A geriatric nurse may even find opportunities to work in a patient’s home.

In many places, a person who wants to become a geriatric nurse has to graduate high school or earn an equivalent to a high school diploma. He may then attend nursing school or college to earn a diploma or degree in nursing. To become a registered nurse, for example, a person needs either a diploma or an associate’s degree in nursing. To secure more opportunities, however, some aspiring nurses seek bachelor’s or master’s degrees instead. After earning a degree or diploma, an aspiring geriatric nurse usually has to pass a jurisdiction-approved licensing exam to practice nursing.

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