Virginia Doctorate in Gerontology Degrees & Programs
Doctorate in Gerontology Degree Information
Improved living conditions and healthcare have created a unique population from that of years past. As each decade passes, the average lifespan for healthy adults climbs higher, producing a steadily rising number of elderly persons that require specialized care and attention. This situation has created an increased need for professionals who are trained to handle the unique challenges that come with old age. This is why the field of gerontology was created. Individuals who earn a doctorate in gerontology are equipped to assess the mental, physical and emotional issues that appear with advancing years.
Potential Concentration Options in Gerontology PhD Degree Programs
For individuals interested in working with elderly patients during their healthcare career, there are many options that could prove both fulfilling as well as challenging. You could concentrate your studies based on the sort of healthcare services you’d like to offer. Pharmacies have need of specialized professionals who know which medicines work best and have the least amount of side effects for aging individuals. Students may also be able to focus their degree on the dental side of healthcare and assist the elderly with things such as dentures and implants for deteriorating teeth. Another popular area for professionals to apply their knowledge is in a nursing home or other long-term care facility. Many of the patients in these institutions are of advanced age and require care that is specific to their needs. Gerontologists could also focus their studies on courses that offer the ability to excel in areas such as social work, nursing, occupational therapy and internal medicine. The wide range of concentration options is one of the things that make this degree a highly-desired program for students. Those with a doctorate in gerontology are also
better qualified to work at a university level, such as in research or teaching. Students with a political interest may want to concentrate their studies on those courses that could lead to policy planning and analyzing positions.
Courses in a Doctorate in Gerontology
To plan a specific concentration schedule for your degree, it’s important to take a look at the available courses at your desired institution. Students hoping to work for businesses with specific products for elderly citizens or companies where aged employees may be working could choose to enroll in classes such as Marketing Aging Services, Research Methods for Managers and Human Resources and Personnel Management. Those interested in the political side of things may choose Introduction to Policy and Public Programs for the Elderly or Introduction to Senior Transportation in Aging or Managing Aging Services in Changing Economic Climates. Psychologists and sociologists seeking a better grasp of the issues facing the aged population may choose to enroll in Social Perspectives on Aging for Long-Term Care Service Providers, Health Management Issues in Aging or Understanding Psychological Processes in Later Life for the Delivery of Aging Services. The courses entitled Residential and Long-Term Care Management and Leadership and Ethics in Aging Services may be beneficial for those seeking employment in the healthcare or residential assistance industries. No matter what concentration you’re working towards, there could be several courses available to allow you to customize your education to meet your vocational goals.
Skills and Qualities for Gerontology PhD Students
Due to the unique issues common to patients of gerontologists, there are several qualities that professionals in this field require. The first is compassion. Emotional and mental states can sometimes be more fragile for older persons because of the challenges they face daily. Often, elderly individuals are suffering from problems that come with aging in addition to anything they may be seeing you for, so understanding and compassion is necessary to appropriately assess their treatment as well as abilities. While a younger person may be capable of completing a certain physical therapy schedule after injury, the muscle loss and energy depletion of an elderly person may render them incapable of such vigorous work. Understanding is another quality that may enable you to offer specific treatments and programs to meet their unique needs. Good communication skills are also necessary to ensure that you relay clear instructions and provide positive feedback. It’s also extremely important for graduates of this degree to have highly developed problem-solving skills and the knowledge that comes through study of the aged population to overcome common obstacles in diagnosing and treating elderly individuals. Older patients typically have a detailed care plan with several doctor appointments and medicines that must be taken each day, making organization especially important for those involved with the daily care of aged individuals.
If you have these qualities and are interested in working with elderly patients in one of the many situations discussed, a doctorate in gerontology may be a great option for you. Whether you desire a career in the planning and policy field or want to offer personalized attention at a care facility, the range of program concentrations could allow you to customize your degree to suit your individual interests. Earning your degree in gerontology may give you the experience and knowledge needed to make life better and easier for those of the aging generation.
- Blacksburg, VABlacksburg, VA
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
The department teaches, researches and provides outreach programs focused on applied Human Development -- emphasizing a life-span approach focused on individual and interpersonal development and interactions.