Graduate Gerontology Certificate Programs
Interested in gerontology certificate programs that could help you prepare to pursue a future career working on behalf of the elderly? These non-degree programs may help you to explore a specific area of the study of aging – like elder healthcare, gerontological nursing, senior housing, and more. If you are hoping to make a difference in the lives of elderly patients or discover ways to address the physical, mental, or social challenges of growing older, perhaps earning a campus-based or online gerontology certificate is the next step for you! Why not take the time to explore your options, while learning more about a potential gerontology career track? Check out some helpful info, below.
What is a gerontologist, and what do they do? Gerontologists are medical scientists who conduct research on the study of aging. They may design studies, test drugs, develop health programs, and explore the biology of growing older. Often, the goal of gerontologists is to develop treatments or preventative measures for health problems that affect elderly populations. They may work for research labs, universities, pharmaceutical companies, etc[i].
Of course, the field of gerontology may reach far beyond the laboratory. Some gerontologists work directly with patients in a clinical capacity, after earning a medical degree.[ii] Some Nurse Practitioners may work specifically with adult and geriatric patients, providing much-needed nursing care and services.[iii] In short, a certificate of gerontology may offer insight that could be useful in any number of professional roles!
Interesting Fact: Our elderly population is growing. By 2030, 20% of U.S. residents will be aged 65+, compared to just under 10% of the population in 1970![iv]
A bit about Gerontology Nurse Certification
Gerontological nurses typically focus in working with elderly patients. If you’re hoping to pursue a career as a Nurse Practitioner or other type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), you must earn a minimum of a master’s degree in order to pursue certification in your field.[v] For nurses who have already earned a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), earning a post-graduate adult-gerontology nursing certificate could be a way to help prepare for the challenges of working with elderly patients. In other words, if you’re thinking about making a career change to geriatric nursing, earning a post-MSN certificate may be a helpful next step.
What types of gerontology certificate programs are available?
Available options may depend on your career goals and eligibility. You may be able to choose from graduate gerontology certificate programs in concentrations like Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Biomedical Gerontology, and other areas of professional focus. Plus, you may be able to find more general Gerontology certificates to choose from. Programs could be available in several formats, like:
Online Gerontology Certificate – Is your busy life keeping you from attending a traditional campus-based certificate program? Earning a certificate in gerontology online may be a great way to explore the study of old age from the comfort of home, or anywhere with an internet connection. You could interact with professors and classmates via online chat, forums, or other technology. Best of all, you could prepare to jumpstart a potential career path in a field you’re passionate about!
Campus-based Certificate of Gerontology – If attending courses in person is more your style, perhaps you could pursue your certificate of gerontology at a college or university near you. Potential benefits of a campus-based program could include access to college resources like laboratories, equipment, and the library. Plus, some students may prefer face-to-face interactions with instructors and peers, making a campus-based program preferable. Certain schools may even offer evening or weekend courses for busy adult learners.
Hybrid Certificate of Gerontology – Hoping to combine the best of gerontology certificate programs online and on campus? A hybrid learning option could allow you to take courses both online and in person, potentially allowing flexibility when you most need it. Not every school of gerontology offers hybrid programs, but this unique option may be worth exploring!
What should I look for in gerontology certificate programs?
Wondering how to select the gerontology program that may be perfect for you? Your choice may depend on factors like what you hope to achieve in your graduate certificate program, the program format you are interested in, and your eligibility. But here are a few factors to look for when choosing a program to help you pursue your goals in gerontology!
- Accreditation[vi] – Always choose a gerontology certificate program that is accredited. Accreditation from a third-party organization helps to make sure the program upholds the standards set by an independent agency…important when it comes time to pursue a career. Plus, students who may be eligible for federal aid and other forms of financial assistance, which may be available, typically must apply their aid toward approved, accredited programs only.
- Reputation vi – Have you heard good things about the gerontology program you’re considering? Stats like graduation rate and retention rate can be useful to take a look at, though they are only part of the picture. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau or your state’s higher education agency to learn more about the program you are considering. And talking to current students and recent graduates can be a great way to learn more about what your prospective program has to offer!
- Suitability – Naturally, you’ll want to identify a gerontology certificate program that fits your needs and goals. Whether you are hoping to nurse geriatric patients, advocate for senior housing rights, research the social impact of aging, or seek treatments for diseases that affect aging adults, it’s important to find a program that could help you on your professional journey.
It’s time to take the next step!
If you’re serious about pursuing your career goals in this field, check out some gerontology certificate programs that focus on areas like gerontological nursing, the study of old age, advocacy for the elderly, or other potential areas of interest. See a school that looks good? Click to learn more about the program’s offerings and requirements. You just might find an option that’s perfect for you.
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/medical-scientists.htm#tab-2 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/medical-scientists.htm#tab-4 | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-2 | [iv] census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p25-1140.pdf | [v] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-4 | [vi] studentaid.ed.gov/sa/prepare-for-college/choosing-schools/consider#accreditation
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