How to Become a Geriatric Staff Nurse
The foremost requirement for a geriatric nurse is an enjoyment of working with older people. These nurses must exhibit patience, a willingness to listen extremely carefully and to balance the needs of their individual patients with the sometimes demanding and conflicting desires of family members.
A popular preparation practice for entering a career in geriatric nursing is to volunteer at a local senior center, a nursing home or hospice, or any organization that will allow experience in working with patients who suffer mobility issues, sensory deficits such as hearing loss or impaired vision, chronic and terminal diseases and cognitive impairments.
The potential geriatric nurse should assess his or her ability to manage the physical and emotional challenges of working with patients who may never recover.
1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)
Although it is possible to become an RN by only completing an associate's program, candidates who go this route will be much less competitive than their bachelor's degree-holding peers.
The preparation timeline below provides an example curriculum for undergraduate nursing students:
|Grade Level||Example Courses|
2. Take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
The NCLEX has a varying number of questions, from 75 to a possible 265, that can be answered. There will be 15 experimental questions among the total, regardless of how many were answered.
The maximum allotted time for the exam is 6 hours and no mandatory breaks are required. Testers can, however, take optional breaks after 2.5 and 3.5 hours of the exam.
The NCLEX is broken down into four primary categories under "Meeting Client Need" and eight subcategories under those:
|Safe & Effective Care Environments||
|Health Promotion & Safety||
For more information on the NCLEX, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
3. Become Certified in Gerontological Nursing
Current registered nurses may pursue a certification in gerontological nursing if they've met the following criteria:
- Currently hold an RN license in the U.S. or the equivalent from another country
- 2 years of full-time practice experience
- Minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in the specialty area of gerontological nursing within the last 3 years
- Completed 30 hours of continuing education in gerontological nursing with in the last 3 years
This certification program can be applied to any time throughout the year and the test can be taken during a 90-day window, when and where ever is most convenient for the test-taker. The exam is 3.5 hours long, consisting of 175 questions, 150 of which are scored with the other 25 being pretest questions.
4. Maintain Gerontological Nursing Certification Through Continuing Education
Certain professional development requirements through the completion of continuing education units must be met in order to maintain your certification.
They must be renewed every 5 years, and renewal applications must be submitted up to 1 year before expiration. If allowed to expire, you may be ineligible to practice.
The renewal process may be completed online or by mail. There is a $350 charge for non-members, with members of the American Nurses Association paying as little as $200 and members of the National Gerontological Nursing Association pay $280.