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Geriatric Patients Need Advocates for Care

Where does the time go? There’s a popular quote that states that the days pass slowly but the years pass quickly. The older I get, the more truth this statement holds. Over the past three years I’ve lost two grandparents and through watching their aging process and the medical care they needed, I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for my parents. Although they are only in their mid-60’s, I know that in 10 to 15 years my sister and I are really going to have to plan for their care and well being. As a nurse in an LVN to RN school, geriatrics is a specialty that will continue to require more nurses to attend to the increasing senior population.

Now I know I wrote about gerontology in my last post, but sometimes I get stuck on a theme based on what I am currently going through in my personal life or what articles seem to keep popping up. Right now both issues are having me focusing on this topic. Fortunately my parents have made wise financial decisions for most of their lives, but like the majority of people in our nation their house has decreased in value by about 1/3 and so has their stocks. More importantly, I worry about their daily care and the quality of treatment they will get in the not so distant future.

Nurse.com published an article that got me thinking about the quality care that many seniors are getting in the medical world. Now I know that many nursing homes and medical staff are awesome and go the extra mile for their patients, but I also read a lot of articles that state negligence on the part of treating the elderly. Whether this be for a need of advocates on behalf of the patient or if the patient is too ill to speak up for himself, I’m not sure. I just know that there seems to be lack of caring or accountability on behalf of geriatric patients.

The major problem that the NurseZone.com article poses is that, “In a study that appeared this year in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, they found that discharge summaries regularly lacked necessary information on diet, activity level, therapy and pending laboratory tests of nursing home patients after departure from the hospital… Amy Kind, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the division of geriatrics and lead author of the study, identified a number of problems with the summaries. They were often completed many days after the patient had already been discharged to the nursing home, some more than 30 days afterward… In addition, as the time grew longer, the quality of the information within the summaries became poorer or more incomplete. This problem forces nursing home caregivers to spend valuable time contacting the hospital to determine how to proceed with patient treatment.”

As a student getting RN training, geriatrics can be a fulfilling and rewarding specialty to pursue. Consider all of your options to see which best fits your personality and lifestyle.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://news.nurse.com/article/20111226/NATIONAL02/112260009/-1/frontpage

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Need for Gerontology Nurses Growing

It’s common knowledge that one of the main reasons why a nursing shortage is pending is because people are living longer and Baby Boomers are entering into their senior years. With an older population, it is obvious that more health care workers will be needed to care for these aging individuals. However as the need grows, the supply of geriatric nurses is not. Could vocational nursing students fill this void?

In The Columbian, Paris Achen highlights the desperate need for nurses interested in geriatric care. “Nursing assistants, along with other jobs serving seniors, are expected to grow faster than average for all occupations as 70 million baby boomers reach the age of 65 or older by 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

“’There is a strange paradox here, because demand for people with a background in gerontology is increasing, but one of the problems we’re experiencing is reluctance in terms of students who want to do coursework in gerontology,’ said Graham Rowles, president of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education and University of Kentucky professor of social and behavioral sciences.”

There are several factors to why gerontology is not getting the workers that it needs. Medicaid and Medicare are the major funding sources for these patients so the payments are not as high as for privately insured patients therefore bringing in less money. Secondly, lower pay, odd hours and the emotional toll on caregivers causes some workers to change jobs. Finally, there is a stigma about working with the elderly that many nurses shy away from.

My husband, who is an LVN, did home health care for many years. He got attached to several of his patients and loved visiting them in their retirement communities or chatting with them about their lives. The hardest part about caring for the elderly can be the difficult conditions they live in if they are unable to clean their homes, the lack of family support and the loneliness that many are struggling with.

I think that the main reason for why workers aren’t turning to gerontology is lack of real understanding of what it entails. We mainly envision a smelly nursing home with a depressing environment. However, there are many aspects to this specialty and different levels of care that are needed. After vocational nursing school research all of your opportunities, even the ones you’re not sure about. You may be surprised.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/dec/20/help-wanted-need-for-medical-professionals-who-ser/

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Nursing Job Specialties – New Areas to Consider

It seems like the hot topic for nursing students right now is the vast area of nursing specialties. Every website and blog that I’ve been checking out has this topic on the top of their list. If you are in a Vocational Nursing program in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are a lot of options to consider.

Different people have different talents and character traits, and there are just as many specialties as there are personality types.

If you like to work with children, maybe a children’s hospital or pediatric ward would suit you. However, this takes a certain type of person to deal with the grief and hardships that come with helping sick or terminal child patients.

Another area that may be of interest is working as an ER nurse. If you like the fast paced action and variety of illnesses and injuries that enter the doors, this might be the field for you. “ER nurses work in a fast-paced environment because they have to deal with life and death situations at a moment’s notice. They might be busy for hours on end and then not see a single patient for many hours or an entire day.” You have to handle stress well and think on your feet at a moment’s notice.

One area that is new to me is the trans-cultural nursing sector. “The trans-cultural nursing sector presents among the largest and growing nursing job opportunities. This is a field in which a nurse would aid an individual or family from another country and with different cultural needs. Healthcare provision is based on these individuals’ specific physical, spiritual and emotional needs and will be determined by their own cultural factors.”

Working at a fertility clinic is also a growing area for nurses seeking employment. It seems that fertility centers, in vitro fertilization, surrogacy and fertility drugs are becoming more common place. As a woman who has battled infertility for six years, I appreciate this field and the medical staff who have dedicated their lives to helping couples build their families. Although we did not use fertility treatments to start our family, the compassionate people we came across helped us to make life changing decisions for our future.

These are only a few examples of the specialties that are out there. If you are in an Vocational Nursing school, look into all of your options and use the people around you as resources to help guide your future. It’s like the saying goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life!”