By completing a bachelor of gerontology degree, the student prepares for a career in managing health services available for elderly patients. As our society continues to grow older, with the baby boomer generation now entering their senior years, the study of gerontology has become a very important subject. Because of this, many universities and colleges across the United States now offer a bachelor of gerontology degree for students to pursue.
In general, the degree requires anywhere from between 120-135 hours to complete, which takes at least four years. The programs have a number of different requirements including core coursework that is intended to teach students a wide range of information related to gerontology. Students are expected to understand such things as how sociological and racial issues affect the aging process, how to best develop policies which meet organizational goals while serving the needs of elderly patients, and what ethical as well as legal standards govern the field of aging services*.
Specific coursework required by the bachelor of gerontology programs typically include the psychology of aging, the biological process of aging, health and aging, cultural perspectives on aging, and gender related issues of getting older. Of course, there are typically more choices available which the students may pursue as electives, allowing for them to better choose areas of interest within the field. These, however, are the core of the program as they cover the most basic of topics concerning aging studies*.
Gerontologists typically work in the field of social work after graduation, where they act as advocates for elderly people in a number of different settings such as nursing homes, hospitals, and service agencies. They work to arrange community services for their clients, as well as to guide them through understanding difficult choices related to care and living, helping for them to make better informed decisions as to their own treatment**.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for these types of social workers is about $50,500 per year. The salaries may fluctuate greatly depending on the geographical area where the gerontologist is practicing as well as their own experience. The BLS predicts a large demand for gerontologists in the future, as baby boomers grow older and increasingly move into long term care facilities and nursing homes. Since millions more elderly people are expected to place greater demand on healthcare and similar services, it is obvious that there may be plenty work for experienced, knowledgeable gerontologists in the future**.
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*For more information, please visit: http://www.umuc.edu/academic-programs/bachelors-degrees/gerontology-major.cfm
**For more information, please visit: http://work.chron.com/salary-gerontological-social-worker-8707.html