Nov 22, 2021

What help is a certificate, grad diploma or master’s in gerontology for aged care?

Nurses training and studying

Graduate Diplomas and Master’s in Gerontology were available as online, remote learning even back then – and what a great way it was for me to spend evenings instead of watching movies, television or reading magazines (which in down times I of course enjoyed). 

From 1993-2010, I studied, read the articles I was given, went to the university library at lunchtime and completed a Graduate Diploma, Master in Health Science and PhD studying and writing about the role of the Gerontological Nurse Practitioner.

I studied whilst I worked full-time in my own aged care consultant / Commonwealth appointed Nurse Advisor roles (and those 24-hour day shifts with staff were only possible with a helpful partner). Featured Text

People have asked me why? I am no different than any, maybe a bit crazier, definitely a career nerd, and maybe unusual as I am not interested in social media, but have to be.

We have our higher spiritual beliefs, or our fundamental beliefs that during this life we have little time to help make the world a better place for our children/friends/community. And that is what I have found study provided me.

I was very lucky to have strong, hard working, ethical parents. I know how lucky my life has been, but I needed to study to be really useful. 

Now they live in residential aged care being supported by kind people, who my father – one of the first male registered nurses in Australia – says may not know everything, but their best attribute is they are thoughtful and kind. I want them to also be expert in gerontology though.

Online you can find Certificate courses, Master Degrees, Diplomas and many other programs related to the topic of Gerontology or Aged care. 

Charles Sturt University, University of Southern Queensland, University of Wollongong, Flinders University, University of Melbourne, The University of Queensland and more. 

But the sector needs funders to support our staff to undertake these courses. My courses were free – higher education for my friends was provided free. This generation of students have to pay for what we received for free. 

What a contradiction when we have Royal Commissions highlighting our sector’s needs, regulatory requirements and quality needs to support our older generation with respect, knowledge and relevance. 

My children may say I wasn’t there for every occasion whilst I had to work full-time, but they now understand the value of knowledge, passion and commitment to do good – with knowledge – with commitment.


Dr Caroline Lee; Group Chief Executive Officer, Leecare Group of companies. To request a demo, click here. To follow Leecare on Facebook, click here

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  1. I totally agree with you. Aged care is not a left-over corner of nursing and health practice. It is a specialty and our aged community deserve the best educated people overseeing and guiding their care as they change and look for support. I will celebrate 50 years as an RN next year but only my 8th year in this specialty and I am not slowing down. I continue to learn every day even though I have the full suite of academic certificates including a PhD. Each day is a celebration and an opportunity to learn from and share knowledge and understanding with the next generation of aged care workers.

  2. I find it is pointless to spend the money on further education in the aged care sector. I hold a cert 4, work in aged care in an area that is needed but really not valued by the powers that be. I have thought long and hard about further education but why would I outlay thousands of dollars when I will still only be earning $26 an hour.

  3. Nurses who are educated in Gerontic care have had the privilege of working with skilled geriatricians. How different that is when attempting to work with GP’s who do not have time or practice the philosophy of their specialist peers. it’s my premise that every aged care facility should have a Nurse practitioner with a major in Gerontology. This would improve all aspects of medical care in the aged care sector markedly. Routine bloods, X rays, medication reviews, pathology could all be taken in the facility. Instead of sending people to external facillities. Intrvaenous medications, antibiotics could be administered on site. I have been asked many times by other nurses what’s a certificate in gerontic nursing! Certainly proud of mine.

  4. Since I have studies Long Term Care (LTC) facilities and the history of these places in Canada, but I can say now that throughout the pandemic is seems to me that all countries, other than those who are more socially and social care motivated (like Denmark for one), are more ageist in their attitudes towards seniors, in that they are often placed (put) in facilities because there are no services or programs that would otherwise keep seniors in their homes or in small real homes with services to match the levels of care.
    These seniors would be a part of the community/society; and the policies of both provincial and municipal governments, together with Federal input and funding, would be in place for this purpose. But that is not the reality of aged care; and we lost a lot of seniors to the virus which rages on, and yet few will take a stand and demand a change for the better.
    I attended the Annual Canadian Association of Gerontology and I mused to myself – why are the Geriatricians not in charge of LTC facilities, policies and directing care? Why are the Geriatric trained managers not directing the care in the manner that is person-centred? Why is there still 50 years later assembly-line care – baths during the night or early AM? why are the meal fro0zen-to-reheat and have no food smell at all? Why is there such abuse and neglect in aged care?
    Aging in Place is now the key word in Canada and they do not realize that abuses and neglects happen all the time in people’s own homes mainly by family (males in particular) and Home Care staff (Manitoba Law reform Commission paper released 2021). There is a whole lot of work that needs leaders with the right education to be writing papers to the local government, speaking in camera, in newspapers and holding mega Zoom meeting inviting all those who can make this change happen – actually happen. Otherwise I agree with the last person’s assessment, why bother spending the time, energy and money into specialty education if it is not going to be a part of any meaningful change now? The seniors are waiting and counting on someone to help them live the best years they have left.

    The History of Geriatric Medicine in Canada by David B Hogan – well worth reading and evaluating where the biggest holdouts are for changing how seniors age – you might be surprised at the answers.


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