student nurse wants to work with geriatrics

Specialties Geriatric


I am a student nurse in my freshman/sophmore year of school. I want to work with geriatric patients after I graduate. My real goal is to become a DON of a nursing home. I was wondering if anyone knows of an internship or someplace where I could go to get a taste of this. Also, if your have any suggestions on classes to take, it would be appriciated.

Hello csnurse,

I too love geriatrics! I have been in nursing for 13 years- all working with the elderly! I love it!

My suggestions would be #1 do a little reading about the Great Depression and maybe a little about World War II, the Korean war etc., I know that sounds weird but it will give you some insight about how the elderly think and what they value- a BIG help in attempting to care for and assess the elderly! Also, take a death and dying class!!!!!!!!!!! This is a huge issue (and a process which we can help the elderly person and their family thru) and will give you some "ammunition" for many situations that you will find in geriatrics, also Pain management is very applicable. Be aware that there are many areas of nursing which will bring you into contact with geriatrics...geri psych units, long-term care, some hospice (not so many geris but some), some on ortho (high rate falls), home care, assisted living and probably more that I am not thinking of.

As for the goal of being a DON, that's great, everyone should have a goal BUT give yourself some time "in the saddle" as that is an administrative position and the DON is frequently the scapegoat for any problems and I would think it would be nearly impossible to make good administrative decisions without having the experience upon which to base it!! If/when you do decide to be a DON...PLEASE take some management and communication classes to help you maximize your talents as well as the talents of those around you and to avoid miscommunication which is a nasty monster in healthcare administration! Sorry I do not know about any internships but some of the big corporations which do long-term care (LTC) may be able to do that OR the Veterans Administration may offer a program to help you get thru school if you work for them and a lot of their patients are elderly males!!! Hope this helps and good luck, it is a wonderful population to work with! Christina

The nursing facility I work in offered our first "Nurse Internship" this past summer.

The nurse intern was also a CNA in our facility. She worked as an intern during the summer between her Junior and Senior year of nursing school

She is such an excellent CNA, that it seemed like a low risk prospect to have her work as our nurse intern. She did an excellent job- so I think our facility will again try to have a nursing intern.

NADONA - National Association Nursing Administrators may be a good reference place for you.

I worked for 2 years as a State Surveyor - surveying nursing homes for compliance with Medicare/Medicaid certification. I now work as a Quality Improvement Coordinator in a nursing facility. I agree that learning basic supervision skills as a charge nurse will help prepare you .

I work with the DON on investigating abuse/neglect and also in coaching/disciplining staff. I have learned so much from her.

As you can guess, being a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, I LOVE older adults. I have spent my entire professional career as an R.N. caring for older adults.

My best suggestion is to take a job as a C.N.A. in a long-term care facility. It will help you to understand the role of the CNA when you graduate, and it will show you the true problems that face caregivers of older adults, today. That way when you do become a DON, you will have the knowledge you need to make smart decisions that will positively effect your residents and staff.

Now, about the DON thing. Think twice before making that decision. It will remove you from direct patient care and put you in the firing line of the NHA in a bad survey. My favorite time in nursing was 3-11 RN. My staff and I did some pretty wonderful things together... and I know it made a difference for our residents.

Good luck in your future endeavors, it will all pay off in the end.


Tis with our judgements as our watches, none go just alike, yet, each believes his own.

-Alexander Pope

Bless each and every one of you. It takes a very special person to work LTC. Thank you for being there for our parents, grandparents, and ourselves one of these days.

Good luck in locating a good internship



If you enjoy word puzzles come visit me at

:) Thankyou Puzzler for saying what you said about Care Assistants. I am from England and have been doing this job now for 9 years, and will continue to do so. I love my job as do other Nurses that work in Elderly care. What Nursing do you do?

;) I found your words comforting. It is people like yourself that say these things that makes our job worth while if ever we get bad days. :o

I agree with all the posts. I was always interested in working with the elderly, as well.

I have been in nursing for the past 14 years... worked my way up through the ranks. Started as a CNA... then became an LPN... am currently an RN and the DON at a LTC facility here in Maine.

The experience issue is MAJOR. It is so important to get as much experience as possible in all areas in order to be able to really understand and relate to staff in a manager position.

Good luck to you... and remember... one step at a time... be a sponge... take in and absorb everything!

It takes a very special person to work in LTC... and we need EVERY one of them!!

The best to you in your career!


Thankyou Tim for those kind words.

csnurse may God bless and give you strength

I am not a very religous person, yet I know that a new grad going into geriatics is a rare and caring person.

You will face horrable working conditions, management that resists change, patient deaths, enraged families and much more.

There are some great rewards as well however you need to have the right state of mind to see them sometimes.

This is an area of nursing that really needs new motivated nurses, however it is often ignore by new nurses. I would never work in this area, not that I do not care greatly about this population, but because I would become frustrated and burn myself out quickly.

You are a rare person and Thank you for picking this area, the elderly need people like you.

I agree with TIM , try working as a CNA. You get some good basic nursing experience. and it will give you a perspective on the cna's role when you become a nurse. good luck.

I've been in Geriatrics since 1969,am a DON,a member of NADONA and FADONA(Florida Chapter) and agree with most of the posters but, being a DON doesn't mean that you don't have direct resident(it's there home)contact. DONS are responsible for not only the caregivers but,the caregiven. I'm in a facility of 160 residents and see each and everyone of them daily. When any of my nurses or CNA's have a question or problem with a procedure,I demonstrate or perform that procedure too the resident in question. When we schedule inservices on new equipment,resident care,etc...,it's demonstrated with the resident needing that specific care,or treatment. Yes, we have many responsibilities but,our first responsibility is still too the resident; we are still nurses. Want too see the list of what a DONS job functions are? What we're supposed too know? Look for a thread titled DONS Knowledge of...

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