The Challenge of Geriatric Nursing

Any career in nursing is a career to be proud of; however a career in the field of geriatric nursing sets many a nurse apart from the rest of the field. It may be true that a nurse is a nurse, is a nurse. The basic training is the same; the basic education is the same. However, if you specialize in the field of geriatrics, your perspective must change. While the overall care is similar, the patient is much different.

A nurse who has specialized in geriatric care needs to have an inner compassion to deal with the issues which plague our older citizens. Aging is not always a pleasant experience; the symptoms can be overwhelming and in some situations can be very embarrassing for the senior citizen. A geriatric nurse needs to be aware of how the aging process affects the patient not only physically, but also mentally. As humans age, the ability to understand what is happening deteriorates. The ability to comprehend and process vast and ever-increasing amounts of information becomes compromised. Explanations sometimes need to be repeated and paraphrased several times. These explanations are not just for the patient, but for the family of the patient.

A nurse who is specializing in geriatric care needs to be aware of the psychosocial issues, the financial considerations, the legal issues, and the ethical issues which apply to an aging patient. The circumstances will obviously vary from patient to patient, just as it does with any other age group. Some aging patients may not be aware of their surroundings, yet others will understand everything and just require physical assistance. Some patients may require short term care (for example, after a broken hip or a bout with pneumonia) while others will require long term care. This particular aspect of your career is typical in geriatric medical issues.

No matter what your reason for entering the field of geriatric nursing, you will need extra doses of compassion, patience, and understanding. However, this field can be extremely rewarding. You can go home at the end of your shift knowing you helped someone who was unable to care for themselves. You will know you made a difference in someone’s life and quality of life each and every day. This field is not right for everyone, but if it is right for you, you should take the path to make this dream a reality. Follow your dream, and reap the rewards of what is a growing field of medical care.