My Education: Certificate in geriatric health care
My Prior Experience: None. I have been doing this since I graduated high school, and at the same facility.
My Company: I work for a nursing home and rehabilitation center in the Slate Belt region of Pennsylvania.
Job/Career Overview: My primary goal in geriatric care is to maintain and assure the safety of the elderly that have taken up residence within the facility where I work. They are there for a myriad of reasons, and not just because of "old age." Most of the elderly I care for have physical or mental disabilities.
During the duration of my night, I must assist with changing briefs of the incontinent, (no longer able to control their bowel or bladder), feeding, dressing, and putting the disabled to bed. Usually I must care for between 11 and 16 people per 8 hour shift. This requires being in decent physical condition and being able to multi-task successfully.
Once the residents are safely in bed, cleaned, and fed, I must complete about an hour of medical charting depicting the actions of each resident I cared for and exactly how and what they performed during the night.
I rate this career 7 out of 10.
The absolute best part of my career is the fact that I get to make a difference in the lives of those I care for. A lot of these people are simply ignored by their families, and we, as the caregivers, are the only family they have. This is what makes it really nice for them, and for us. We get paid, sure. It's a career. But it's also a way of life.
The worst part of the job is the constant head-bucking you get from administration. They seem to make the decisions on how we should conduct our care, but have no idea what hands-on care is all about, making it difficult for them to gauge. Our company's slogan is "What Matter's Most..." To us, that means the residents. To administration, it seems more that it means the bottom-line profit. This is the sad state of most medical facilities these days.
The advice I would offer to those who want to pursue a career in the medical field, especially geriatrics, is to know what you're dealing with first! Volunteer at a local nursing home and actually see what you'll be doing for a living. Some people enter this job with the thoughts that it's like what you see on TV, and all you'll be doing is listening to "grandma" talk about yesteryear and placing a sweater over her shoulders... it's not this way. You have combative residents that have severe physical disabilities and have the potential to injure you. Weigh this carefully!
Another bit of advice is to not work for a for-profit company. Look for a nice non-profit nursing home. These usually offer better pay and better benefits because they can't show a bottom line of profit at the end of the year.
Thirdly, don't pay for your education yourself. Simply apply at nursing homes that offer paid training. This is where you will work on-the-job, and they pay you to do so. Then, they pay for your testing. This is a great deal in this day-and-age!