Pros and Cons of Becoming a Geriatric Care Manager
Through your work as a geriatric care manager, you can take on the role of the handbook by helping people learn how to care for aging family members, friends and patients. While there are many rewards to helping care for the elderly, you should also consider the pros and cons of the industry.
|PROS of a Geriatric Care Manager Career|
|High salary potential (top earners made up to $103,847 in 2014)*|
|23% job growth rate from 2012-2022 (higher than average for all occupations)**|
|Varied job duties***|
|Build close relationships***|
|CONS of a Geriatric Care Manager Career|
|Job effectiveness relies on client compliance***|
|Possibility of stressful and volatile environments***|
Source(s): *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; ***National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
Job Description, Responsibilities and Salary Info
As a division of social services, geriatric care management provides guidance, support and resources to individuals and families who care for the elderly. Initially, you'll approach a situation by evaluating the current needs, available tools and scope of a caregiver's abilities. You can offer recommendations and suggestions for financial assistance, in-home health care, legal aid or counseling services. Direct help you might supply could include family mediation, transportation, medication assessment or long-term care planning.
Job Duties and Special Requirements
Although you'll experience differences in each case you encounter, much of your knowledge and skills can apply to multiple clients. Regularly reviewing cases and updating your knowledge of legal, medical and other professional resources can help you offer complete guidance to caregivers, families and elderly patients. Keeping accurate records could help you determine and adjust a care plan, and it is commonly required by employers. In addition to advising clients on benefits, medical options and available housing, you could also follow up by explaining diagnoses, helping with paperwork or contacting insurance companies on a client's behalf. Some employers require that you have medical training as a nurse or similar health care professional.
Salary and Employment Options
According to PayScale.com, the salary range for the majority of geriatric care managers was $27,379-$102,991 in 2015, including overtime, bonuses and other compensation. According to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, most of these professionals are self-employed and either work independently or through a support services or employment firm (www.caremanager.org). However, some institutions, such as senior care centers and hospitals, offer full-time positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 23% job growth for health services managers from 2012-2022, mainly due to the aging population needing more geriatric care.
Educational and Experience Preparation
To become a geriatric care manager, the minimum educational requirement is usually a bachelor's degree. Completing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program can make you eligible for licensure as a registered nurse (RN), which is a common requirement for geriatric care management jobs. Other relevant majors could include social work, psychology or health care management. You'll usually find education specific to geriatric health care through post-baccalaureate and post-master's certificate programs. Additionally, you could pursue a master's or doctoral degree in gerontology or advanced practice nursing with a geriatric care concentration. Nearly all of these programs offer clinical practicums to give you hands-on training under the guidance of experienced nurses, elder care managers and qualified health professionals.
Not all employers require you to earn an RN license, though some do. Similar to social workers, geriatric care managers might also require licensing by the state to provide social services. Additionally, if you act on behalf of a family or elderly patient in a fiduciary capacity, you'll usually need to obtain additional licensing and meet specific education requirements, which can consist of a state-approved course that covers legal and monetary topics relevant to financial guardianship.
Valuable Traits to Become Successful
To work as a geriatric care manager, it's helpful to possess certain characteristics, such as patience, compassion, organization and a high tolerance for stress. Common skills employers look for include:
- Time management and organizational skills
- Knowledge of local, state and federal resources
- Superior verbal and written communication
- Ability to work alone and as part of a consultation or health care team
- Basic medical practice and pharmaceutical knowledge
- Transitional and discharge procedures
What Employers Are Looking For
Employers typically look for applicants who not only have the requisite educational background, but also at least three years of experience in nursing, geriatric care or case management. To gain this experience, you could work as a nurse, an in-home care aide, a social worker or a health care consultant. Here are some job ads from May 2012 that outline some of the skills and knowledge employers were seeking:
- A home care agency based in Pasadena, CA advertised for a geriatric care manager to provide services to several clients. The position required familiarity with area resources. Clinical social workers and RNs were invited to apply. At least a bachelor's degree and 2+ years of experience were required, though a master's degree or a state license as a clinical social worker was preferred. A case management certification was also recommended.
- A home care staffing firm in San Francisco was looking for a geriatric care manager to provide in-home care, including cleaning, cooking and running errands. A master's degree in social work was preferred, though experienced applicants with a master's degree in family therapy or gerontology were considered.
- A hospice center in Massachusetts sought a geriatric care manager to serve aged and disabled individuals. The job entailed developing long-term care plans, offering counseling services and advocating for clients. Business planning and marketing duties were also required. Applicants needed to be licensed clinical social workers.
- A health care service company headquartered in New York City posted an ad for an RN or a social worker with a master's degree to fill the position of geriatric care manager. The job required urgent care intervention, intake services and home care. Acceptable candidates were required to have 2+ years of experience caring for the elderly and to possess or be qualified for certification through the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers.
How to Stand Out in the Field
Experience is usually required, though the type of experience you have can demonstrate your particular interest in the field of geriatric care. You might consider working or volunteering at a community center, an assisted living facility, a hospital or an organization that caters to the elderly, such as the AARP or Caregiver Community Action Network.
Although certification as a geriatric care manager is voluntary, employers might require it, and it proves your competency to potential clients. Organizations such as the National Academy of Certified Care Managers or the Commission for Case Manager Certification offer credentials that demonstrate your professionalism, integrity and level of knowledge in a particular field, such as social work, case management or care giving. Earning a Certified Geriatric Care Manager credential from the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers blends your proficiency in the many facets of care management by requiring that you obtain certification through at least one other approved credentialing organization and earn a degree in a relevant field, such as counseling, social work or gerontology.
Alternative Career Options
The demand for geriatric care managers was expected to increase substantially to help families care for aging parents of the Baby Boomer generation. Similarly, many jobs in the health care industry were projected to have an increase in demand for competent and qualified professionals for patients of all age ranges. If you'd like to broaden your employment opportunities, there are a few other career options you can consider that have similar or overlapping education and licensure requirements.
Advanced Practice Nursing
If you'd like to broaden your field of expertise, you could also consider working as a specialized nurse in such areas as pediatrics, acute care or primary care. These nurse practitioner fields usually require at least a master's degree, licensure in advanced practice nursing and specific experience in a given discipline. PayScale.com reported that salaries at the high end for nurses in these areas were in the same range as geriatric care managers, with salaries topping $108,000 as of January 2012.
If your interests lie more with the administrative or business aspects of the health care industry, you could consider a job as a hospital administrator, health information manager, clinical director or nursing home executive. You'll need to keep on top of the changes in the medical field, such as regulations and institutional reorganizing, while ensuring that a facility provides efficient and quality services. The BLS reported that medical and health services managers earned an average of $96,000 in 2011.
Outside of the health care industry, you could pursue social work jobs through government agencies, non-profit organizations or schools. You'll generally need to be licensed through your state for health care management or social worker jobs. Employment options you could consider include child services, employment agencies, counseling centers or schools. In 2011, the BLS stated that social workers who worked in mental health settings averaged $43,000, child and school social workers earned an average of $44,000 and social workers in the healthcare field earned an average of $51,000.