When contemplating a career in healthcare, especially if you’re of a younger age, you may not have considered a career in gerontology, however, you might want to at least research it. Why, you ask? Well, if you think back to the mentors, teachers or even your grandparents, perhaps there is someone who has meant the world to you or has played a crucial role in shaping you into who you are today. The older community and elderly of today’s society need and deserve exceptional healthcare to help them transition into their final years and they deserve the compassion and care that only a gerontologist can provide.
The title “gerontologist” covers a wide array of specializations, who, in general, all are professionals that are experts in aging and older adults. Gerontology deals with the many aspects of the elderly such as, the physical, mental and social aspects of aging. They may work in many areas of expertise including social work, nutrition, physical fitness, medical needs, education, in addition to, counseling and in areas of home health desires or nursing home needs.
Typically, there are three main branches of gerontology. The administrative gerontologist works within program development, most commonly, in nursing homes and other care centers. With a bachelor’s degree in gerontology, you may obtain an entry-level position such as a Program Coordinator, however, with an online master’s or doctorate degree, you will qualify for higher-level positions such as a Program Director.
The academic gerontologist focuses on medical issues like common diseases, as well as, psychological issues such as depression during the aging process and how to grow old gracefully with dignity. They research the elderly’s physical process of getting older and the affects it has in their everyday lives. At this level, with an online master’s or doctorate degree in gerontology, you may be asked to teach, write grant proposals or be an Academic Researcher.
An applied gerontologist, or practitioner, works with the elderly on a daily basis by way of nursing, therapy or counseling. With a bachelor’s degree, you may choose to be a Social Worker or with an online master’s degree in gerontology, you may choose a career as a Geriatric Care Manager, or a Certified Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (CGNP).
Americans over the age of 65 require more and more medical attention from our healthcare system with nearly 300 million visits each year to doctor’s appointments, emergency room visits and other hospital outpatient visits. As the elderly continue to decline health wise, then the gerontologist can make each one as comfortable and happy as possible. The field of gerontology is expected to grow 12-17% by 2024.
In the healthcare realm, a career in gerontology provides you with the opportunity to change someone’s life just as that mentor or grandparent might have done for you at some point. It allows for a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
As you can see, the field of gerontology can be applied to any field of healthcare including psychology, biology or sociology. Issues that affect the average age adult patient also affects the elderly, as well. If you think you may be interested in a healthcare career, check out our list of Top 15 Online Schools for a Master’s Degree in Gerontology to help you along your educational journey.