What Degree Do I Need To Become A Gerontologist?
If you wish to pursue a career in the diverse field of gerontology, you will need to decide on an area of specialization. Healthcare, social work, sociology, or psychology are the perfect starting points to explore throughout your educational journey. You may wish to obtain a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, or doctoral degree in the areas of health policy, gerontology, aging, or research. At a graduate level, there are graduate degrees within the field of Applied Gerontology. Throughout your coursework in gerontology, you will learn about the processes of aging, medical conditions concerning the elderly population, and various methods to meet the specific needs of the elderly.
Furthermore, your coursework may strictly focus on the study of geriatrics, which is the study of disease and health later in life. Gerontology and geriatric studies will further focus on the study of public policy, healthcare, housing, retirement, and family roles in regards to the elderly population. Counseling for mortality or bereavement and teaching the elderly play a large role in gerontology education.
When choosing a career within the field of gerontology, you can choose to study within the areas of psychology, sociology, biology, and healthcare. The issues of the elderly can be applied to so many areas of academics and science; therefore, it is a broad and diverse field of study.
Gerontologists typically work directly with older or elderly adults, often as advocates or caregivers. Due to the wide array of fields that gerontologists may be employed within, their work environment will vary from individual to individual. Additionally, many gerontologists work in medical research, public policy, administration, or education. Social work and healthcare social work accounts for a large part of the gerontology field, as do healthcare professionals. Social workers and healthcare professionals work to understand and treat the specific needs or ailments of the elderly.
The work of a gerontologist is so vital to understand the needs of elderly individuals. Without the compassion, research, and responsibilities of gerontologists, many elderly would not have the proper care or quality of life that they may require. The field of gerontology is diverse and multi-disciplinary, as gerontologists work in various fields to improve, promote, and support elderly individuals. A gerontologist’s duties include improving standards of living, supporting emotional and physical health, and promoting lifestyle related needs of the elderly. As a gerontologist, it is your responsibility to understand how humans, specifically the elderly, change as they continue to age.
Essential Qualities & Skills for Gerontologist
- Compassion – As a gerontologist, you may work with elderly individuals who are upset, stressed, or in a difficult situation. It is imperative that you show compassion and empathy while forging a strong relationship with your client or patient.
- Communication Skills – Gerontologist must be able to clearly and effectively communicate with their elderly patients and clients in order to assist them or answer any concerns that may arise.
- Interpersonal Skills – As a gerontologist, it is essential to have strong interpersonal skills when working with an elderly patient or client. You must make your client or patient feel comfortable when discussing difficult or sensitive topics, while building a strong rapport.
- Problem-Solving Skills – Gerontologists work with elderly patients or clients who need assistance with a variety of issues. You must be able to listen to what a client or patient may need in order to provide effective and successful solutions.