September 2, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Most geriatric psychologists start their career much like any other psychology career – with a four year bachelor’s degree in psychology. If you are keen on specialising in this field, you should also focus on courses that deal with aging and lifespan development.
An advanced degree in psychology or specifically geriatric psychology is also often considered necessary when pursuing a career in this subspecialty. A Master’s degree or a doctorate can help you get advance more quickly in this field. Although some universities offer advanced degree programs in geriatric psychology, an advanced degree in psychology with a focus in geriatrics is also usually sufficient.
Having some amount of experience working with elderly individuals is also a must for a successful career in this specialty. Working with the elderly presents a range of unique challenges. It takes a patient and compassionate person to be able to cope and excel in this area.
Volunteer positions, internships and paid positions that involve working with aging adults are some of the best ways to gain experience and find out if this type of career is the right fit for you.
Several different facilities might hire professionals in this specialty for several different reasons.
Professionals trained in this field are in huge demand in care facilities that are dedicated to caring for elderly patients. Nursing homes and hospitals for instance are always in need of geropsychologists as well as other qualified and experienced geriatric professionals to care for their elderly residents. You could also find employment in assisted living communities or physician’s office.
Geriatric psychologists often work closely with other professionals in the medical field. For instance, they often interact with the individual’s primary care providers, especially if a chronic or terminal illness is present. As a geriatric psychologist you could also work with a geriatric psychiatrist, who would be able to prescribe medications when necessary such as in cases involving some type of severe mental disorder, such as dementia or severe depression.
Private as well as government research facilities, for instance, might also hire these professionals to study the effects of aging on an individual’s cognitive abilities. In the past few decades, finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease is also another very important focus for these professionals.
As the nation’s baby boomers grow older and start needing care in the coming years, the demand for this specialty is expected to increase dramatically. This increasing demand will no doubt translate to highly competitive salaries for geriatric psychologists. With the focus on the mental health of elderly individuals becoming more and more prominent, a qualified and experienced professional in this stream can expect to have very little trouble finding employment.