Gerontology, the study of the elderly, is becoming an increasingly popular field for people who work within the health care system, from hands-on workers, such as nurses and social workers, to the administrators of facilities that work with the elderly. Gerontology is a growing field as the large baby boomer generation nears retirement, creating demand for health care professionals with training in issues specific to caring for the elderly.
Although many people already work with the elderly, there is a distinct need for specialization in the field. The needs of both healthy and ill seniors can vary widely from those who are younger. Health administrators who obtain a master’s degree with a specialization in gerontology are one step ahead of their peers who have not yet done so. By specializing in gerontology, you may work in business, industry, hospitals, and community health, among other areas.
Gerontology Is a Broad Field
On the surface, gerontology involves providing physical nursing care to the elderly, but deeper down it’s much more. Caring for seniors involves wellness and prevention, an understanding of the aging body and mind, and knowledge of social and legal issues facing the elderly. Gerontology also involves research and advocacy.
For senior citizens to receive care targeted to all their needs, from preventative care to end-of-life care, health care professionals must integrate all the disciplines involved in working with this population. This means students earning a master’s degree in gerontology must learn about the many challenges the elderly face and be able to develop plans and approaches to serve their needs.
Coursework in Gerontology for Health Care Administrators
Health care administrators who want to specialize in gerontology should face strong job opportunities in coming years as an increasing number of both healthy and chronically ill seniors seek routine medical treatments, surgical procedures, and long-term care options.
Relevant coursework for health administrators specializing in gerontology may include:
- Financial management in health care
- Social and cultural aspects of aging
- Organization and management of aging services
- Foundations of gerontology
- Ethical and legal issues in aging and social services
Depending on your career goals, you may choose to focus on clinical aspects of aging, organizational principles and management techniques, or legal and ethical issues.
Job Opportunities in Gerontology
Gerontology is one of the largest and fastest growing professions in social services organizations. The cause is two-fold: more of the American population is aging and health care providers and patients alike recognize the need for specialized knowledge in gerontology.
According to the San Francisco State University, geriatric care managers are among the most highly sought after professionals in the health care field today, enjoying job opportunities in both the public and private sectors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 16 percent job growth for all medical and health services managers between 2008 and 2018.
Health care is a growing field and individuals with training in gerontology should be poised to take advantage of some of the best opportunities in coming years.