Effective Guide on “How to Become a Geriatric Nurse”

How to Become a Geriatric Nurse – Overview

Geriatric nurses, also known as gerontological nurses, must provide complete care to patients (both physically and mentally).

People trust such healthcare workers, and if you want to know how to become a senior nurse, the first step is providing complete care.

The need for senior nurses is also increasing. In 2024, around 16,700 certified nursing facilities were present in the USA.

Geriatric nurses are registered nurses who specialize in the care of elderly patients. These superb healthcare workers care for the elderly and vulnerable community segments as RN license holders.

This article will cover all the detailed information about this noble profession, such as how to become a geriatric nurse, the work of geriatric nursing, and licensing requirements.

What Does a Geriatric Nurse Do

The aging population’s mental, physical, and social aspects are called Gerontology.

The geriatric nursing specialties help provide bedside care, assist and guide daily activities, provide medications, and educate patients and their colleagues both long-term and short-term.

How to Become a Geriatric Nurse

How to Become a Geriatric Nurse – What Does a Geriatric Nurse Do

A Geriatric Nurse is responsible for caring for patients with health conditions like Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart failure, stroke, and shingles.

Geriatric Nurse – Duties And Responsibilities

The essential duties of a geriatric nurse include taking care of elderly patients and educating them, their families, and caregivers. Their responsibilities may vary from institute to institute, and they may perform the following duties as well:

Assessing the level of injury, independence or disability in a patient,

Obtaining vital signs and performing nursing assessments,

Collecting blood samples and other laboratory tests as ordered,

Preparing and updating nursing care plans,

Triaging and stabilizing patients requiring immediate medical attention,

Lifting and transferring patients,

Administering medications,

Changing wound and/or surgical dressings,

Assisting in performing emergency procedures.

Salary Of A Geriatric Nurse

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a registered nurse is around $81,220 per year.

Geriatric nurses can get higher pay with increased years of experience.

Apart from the salary, geriatric nurses often enjoy a wide range of employment benefits that include paid time off, health cover, relocation allowances, retirement benefits, education reimbursement, etc., irrespective of location, and full- and part-time variance.

How Do You Become a Geriatric Nurse – 5 Steps

Now, we proceed with providing the next piece of information, which will cover the entire process of becoming a geriatric nurse, step by step.

The First Step: Enrolling In A Nursing Program

To become a geriatric nurse, you must first complete an accredited nursing program and earn either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Here, you should also consider looking for programs that provide exposure to geriatric nursing while choosing your career goals.

Nursing programs always combine professional healthcare experience and relevant academic instruction on various topics, including anatomy, nutrition, medical terminology, chemistry, psychology, etc.

The Second Step: Clearing The National Licensing Exam

After completing a nursing program, the next step to becoming a registered nurse, including a specialization in geriatric nursing, is to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

The exam is also known as the NCLEX-RN exam for registered nurses (RNs).

The state’s licensing board recognizes this exam as a mandatory requirement, and in some scenarios, this exam couples with state licensure in two states.

The Third Step: Earning A Master’s Degree

While a master’s degree is beneficial for advanced practice roles in geriatric nursing, becoming a geriatric nurse primarily requires obtaining a registered nursing license and gaining experience in geriatric care. Advanced practice roles, such as Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, require a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

In the Master’s Degree program, you can choose a specialty area or population to treat.

The geriatric nursing program allows you to learn and get training about elderly disorders, aging, pharmacotherapeutics, human development, and gerontology.

The Fourth Step: Getting Experience In Geriatric Nursing

You must complete the nursing responsibilities in geriatric care and gain clinical experience. As the elderly population grows, geriatric nursing job opportunities are rising.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the rapid increase in home healthcare job opportunities due to the growing number of elderly adults with functional disabilities.

The options in other healthcare and long-term care facilities and hospitals are also rising.

The Fifth Step: Getting Certification

Certification can enhance a nurse’s qualifications and may lead to higher salaries, but specific demands and salaries can vary. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers certification for gerontological nursing, among other specialties.

The ANCC provides a Gerontological Nurse Certification to registered nurses if they have acquired relevant experience, obtained a master’s degree in geriatric nursing, and cleared the certification exam.

Geriatric Nurse: The Related Careers

Geriatric nurses are RNs who have advanced nursing degrees and work specifically with the aging population. They can work in rehabilitation, critical care, or another specialty.

As an advanced nursing degree, you can choose a midwifery program, which involves pregnancies, or an anesthetics program, which involves administering anesthesia medication to pre-surgery patients.

Jobs That Are Available For Geriatric Nurse

The demand for qualified and specialized geriatric nurses is expected to increase dramatically as the population of older adults continues to grow.

The aging population impacts healthcare and employment opportunities because they require considerable medical attention with aging.

Some older adults experience chronic conditions that require continuous care. These conditions are complex and challenging to manage and demand nurses with specialized knowledge and expertise in geriatric nursing.

The primary career paths for Geriatric Nurses include:

Home Health Nurse,

Geriatric Nursing Assistant,

Hospice Nurse,

Geriatric Staff Nurse,

Geriatric Nurse Practitioner.

Home Health Nurse

Home health nurses perform various patient care services apart from traditional healthcare by providing supportive care, teaching patients about managing their conditions, assisting in rehabilitation, and helping with day-to-day activities.

Home health nurses also help with patients’ basic needs, including bathing and meal preparation, and provide support for specific conditions, such as wound care.

Geriatric Nursing Assistant

Geriatric nursing assistants are responsible for offering personal care and support to patients by assisting in dressing, grooming, bathing, laundry, toileting, and other day-to-day activities.

Geriatric nursing assistants perform their duties under a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse overseeing all aspects of patient care.

Hospice Nurse

Hospice nurses provide care and support for terminally ill patients or those near the end of their lives.

Hospice nurses work with a team of healthcare professionals to ensure the best possible quality of life during patients’ final days. They focus on care such as pain management or grief counseling.

Geriatric Staff Nurse

Geriatric Staff nurses are responsible for providing support to both patients and doctors.

They help patients with daily living activities, monitor their conditions, and assist doctors in diagnostics and surgeries.

They work to take care of patients with complex medical needs and long-term and chronic illnesses.

Geriatric staff nurses support and supervise nurses, assistants, and other healthcare workers.

Geriatric Nursing Practitioner

Geriatric nurse practitioners have advanced practice registered nurses with a graduate-level nurse practitioner program to conduct advanced assessments of patient’s health conditions, develop care plans, and recommend treatment options.

In some cases, they supervise nurses and other staff members.

Geriatric Nurses -The WorkPlace

Geriatric nurses have various career opportunities in hospitals, nursing homes, and home care settings, including the below-mentioned:

Rehabilitation facilities,


Healthcare insurance companies,

Government agencies,

Private physician offices,

Medical supply companies,

Memory care centers,

Military facilities,

Case management.

Geriatric Nurse -The Career Outlook for

Geriatric nurses are the highly demanded nursing specialties in long-term care facilities because of the aging baby boomer population.

This need will only continue to rise as Americans continue to live longer.

Geriatric Nurse – Continuing Education Requirements

Geriatric nurses require a current resident nurse’s license. Renewing requires an application, a certain number of continuing education units (CEU), and a fee.

Some states may require CEUs related to child abuse, narcotics, and/or pain management. RN-BC nurses need to complete specific CEUs for certification.

The continuing education hours are used to recertify the nursing license.


What does geriatric nursing mean?

Geriatric nurses have specialized registered nurses in gerontology, studying the aging population’s mental, physical, and social conditions.

How much time does it take to become a geriatric nurse?

The timeline to become a senior nurse varies depending on the path chosen. Obtaining a BSN takes about four years, followed by passing the NCLEX-RN. Additional time is required to gain experience; if pursuing advanced practice roles, completing a graduate degree program may take several more years. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing takes four years, obtaining relevant experience takes two years, and the NP program takes three years to complete.


Becoming a senior nurse is possible if you follow the right path and study hard.

We have mentioned all the requirements and necessary steps to becoming one. I hope the above-mentioned information helps you gain significant knowledge.

See Also

How to Become a Public Health Nurse

Grants for Nursing School

Types of Nurses

Nursing Schools in Texas

How to Become a Dermatology Nurse

Nurse Practitioner Salary

Grants for Medical Travel

Travel Nursing Agencies

Best Nursing Schools in Las Vegas

Nursing School Interview Questions

Current Version
September 16, 2023
Updated By
Andrea Morales G.
March 28, 2024
Updated By
Tim Bevelacqua, MN, RN

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