Nursing Career Profile: Geriatric Psychiatric Nursing

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Where the jobs are:

Jobs for psych mental health nurses interested in working with geriatric populations can be found in many different types of facilities. For example, some long term facilities have specific psych floors or wings that are designed to provide care for patients who need both care and assistance with activities of daily living and extra support and safety measures for dementia. Some freestanding inpatient psychiatric facilities have designated units for older adults. Older adults may be segregated from the general population either because they need specialized care (dementia versus long standing severe mental illness) or because they are medically fragile and need more frequent assessments for chronic conditions such as diabetes or cardiac problems. Jobs are also available in facilities that treat even more specific populations, such as veterans.

Job characteristics and specialized responsibilities:

Nurses on psych geriatric units perform initial and ongoing physical and psychosocial assessments, administer meds, perform wound care, and monitor vital signs as ordered and appropriate. In addition, nurses on these units may run groups such as reality orientation, patient socialization, or medication education. Nurses who work with older adults with mental health challenges also need excellent assessment skills and broad knowledge of the aging process in order to ensure the safety of the patients in their care.

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