If you’re hoping to pursue the career goal of improving quality of life for elderly people, earning an online gerontology certificate may be a move worth considering! Professionals in the field of gerontology can have diverse roles, but typically, they seek to better understand the biology of aging, while exploring ways to resolve some of the health challenges of growing older.[i] Gerontology certificate programs online could be the perfect way to enhance your knowledge of the study of old age, while preparing to pursue a professional role that may have a positive impact on elderly populations. Plus, learning online may allow you to pursue your academic goals from the comfort of home…potentially helpful to busy, working adults who don’t have the flexibility to attend a campus-based program! Below, you’ll find information that could help you plan your next steps.
Did you know: the population of U.S. residents aged 85 and older is projected to double by 2036 and triple by 2049![ii]
Gerontology is basically the study of the changes that happen to people as they age. Gerontologists are medical scientists who examine the biology of aging. They may conduct studies on diseases related to aging, in order to identify causes, treatments, and preventions. They may also develop healthcare programs, prepare and analyze medical samples, test drugs, and lots more. Other professionals who work in the field of gerontology may include physicians[iii] and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)[iv], among others. For example, nurse practitioners may work specifically with adult and geriatric patients to provide primary and preventative care, as well as counsel patients on how to stay healthy as they age.[iv]
But why is gerontology so important? One reason may be that the elderly population in the
United States is projected to grow considerably in coming years. In fact, the population of U.S. residents aged 65 and over is expected to be about 83.7 million by 2050…that’s nearly double the senior population reported in 2012. ii With so many older citizens coming onto the scene, it may make sense to focus efforts on understanding and addressing the health challenges of this population!
If you’re interested in earning an online gerontology certificate, you may be hoping to build on previous professional and academic experience in order to pursue new career goals! For example, after earning an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing), a prospective nurse practitioner may be interested in pursuing an adult-geriatric specialty. iv Earning a related online gerontology certificate could be a great next step. Here are a few options you might encounter:
Post-Graduate Adult-Gerontology Certificate – This option could potentially help you prepare to pursue a Nurse Practitioner role that involves working with adult and geriatric patients. You may learn about preventative care, acute and chronic healthcare problems, providing educational health consulting, and other possible topics of interest.
Graduate Certificate in Gerontology Online – A more general online gerontology certificate may cover a range of potential topics and issues, from human services to healthcare. You may have the chance to get an in-depth look at the study of aging while gaining insight into some of the physical, mental, and social challenges faced by aging adults.
Other Gerontology Certificate Programs – You may be able to find other gerontology certificate programs online that deal with specific issues affecting elderly populations – like senior housing, social services for seniors, etc. Your options may depend on program availability, as well as your prospective career goals.
If you’re new to online learning, you’re probably wondering if this format may suit your needs, goals, and abilities. Of course, nobody can truly answer that question except you…but it may help to understand some of the potential benefits and challenges of pursuing gerontology courses online.
Flexible scheduling – You may be able to pursue your studies at a time that’s more convenient to your schedule, like nights and weekends. For working adults and parents, an online certificate program may be a great way to fit learning into a busy life!
Location, location, location – Don’t live near a college or university that offers gerontology certificate programs? Pursuing gerontology courses online could give you access to professors and peers in your field, from the convenience of your own home. You may even find programs offered by large, distinguished research universities.
Self-directed learning – If you prefer to take a self-motivated approach to your studies, you may enjoy online learning. Working independently might even be good practice for setting deadlines and pushing yourself to achieve!
Independence – For some students, independence might be a big plus. However, if you learn best by lots of personal interaction, you may need to make a bit more effort to reach out to your instructors and peers via technology tools, like forums or video chat.
Time management – An online gerontology certificate will likely require you to allocate time to studying, working on assignments, and communicating with your peers and professors. Of course, the same goes for traditional, campus-based learning. But if you become easily sidetracked by social media and other temptations, you may have to set strict deadlines for your online learning goals!
Once you’ve identified some prospective online gerontology certificate programs that seem relevant to your career goals, you’ll have to decide which one may be perfect for you. Some factors you may want to explore include accreditation, the program’s reputation for student satisfaction and success, and availability of resources that meet your needs – like online library services, IT assistance, etc. Besides the program’s website and representatives, you can check out your state’s higher education agency and the Better Business Bureau for more info[v]. Finally, ask to speak to some current students and alumni who might be able to offer insight into the program you’re considering.
Below, you’ll find some online gerontology certificate programs that may be worth checking out. Click the program that interests you to learn more about certificate content, goals, accreditation, and more!
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/medical-scientists.htm#tab-2 | [ii] census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p25-1140.pdf | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/medical-scientists.htm#tab-4 | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-2 | [v] studentaid.ed.gov/sa/prepare-for-college/choosing-schools/consider#work-flexibility