What is a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner?

For elderly patients, a geriatric nurse practitioner provides expert care, treatment, and counseling. A professional performs diagnostic tests, monitors vital signs, and assists doctors in the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions. A geriatric nurse practitioner can also assist a patient with physical therapy exercises and educate family members about their loved one’s condition. The majority of nurses work in general hospitals and nursing homes, but some work in specialty clinics, private doctor’s offices, and home health care companies.

Doctors and nurses who care for the elderly face unique difficulties. An older patient is more vulnerable to traumatic falls and debilitating illnesses as their bones and immune systems weaken with age. Patients may also have cognitive difficulties as a result of disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, which can make things even more difficult for caregivers. A geriatric nurse practitioner is familiar with the issues that older patients face and can tailor treatment to meet their specific needs.

In a hospital or clinic, a geriatric nurse practitioner is often in charge of performing initial patient evaluations, assisting with diagnostic tests, and assisting doctors in determining the best treatment options. He or she assists patients in getting dressed, bathing, eating, and moving around. A nurse practitioner might be in charge of creating an exercise routine for a recovering patient or explaining the details and prognosis of a disease. When friends or family members have concerns, the practitioner can usually offer expert advice to help them cope with the situation.

Many geriatric nurse practitioners only work with patients who have been diagnosed with specific illnesses. A practitioner might specialize in treating people with cancer, terminal illnesses, broken bones, or osteoporosis, for example. A specialist can use his or her in-depth understanding of disease and aging to ensure that patients receive the best possible care for their delicate conditions.

A geriatric nurse practitioner may be qualified to make diagnoses and prescribe medications without first consulting with a physician, depending on the specific work setting. Many professionals in nursing homes and home health care settings are the final authority in terms of client care and management. To ensure quality care, they work directly with patients and supervise other nursing specialists.

In most areas and countries, a master’s degree in nursing is required to work as a geriatric nurse practitioner. Before working independently, a new nurse must usually complete a practical internship program and pass a series of licensing examinations in addition to a bachelor’s degree. Many experienced nurse practitioners choose to work in administration or as adjunct professors at universities.