Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurse

Becoming a gerontology or geriatric nurse practitioner (GNP) may be an excellent career choice in advanced nursing if you are a gerontological nurse seeking advancement, or if you hope to become a nurse practitioner and are interested in the gerontology specialization. Gerontological nurse practitioners are sometimes called geriatric nurse practitioners, and they primarily provide nursing care to the elderly. Nurses can specialize by work setting, by health condition, and some specialize by subset of the population. Geriatric nurse practitioners specialize by population, and so the care they provide for this subset of the population can be varied. However, as their patients are older, the care they provide spans not just well visits, preventative care, illness, or injury, but also includes helping some of their patients with aspects of everyday living. They help them maintain their quality of life, both mentally and physically. Geriatric nurse practitioners find jobs in nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, and private practices. With their advanced degree, they can become case managers, researchers, or educators in addition to being a practitioner.

Becoming a nurse practitioner in any specialty involves earning a master’s degree in nursing. If you are already a registered you can apply to a graduate program in nursing and earn your master’s degree with a focus on gerontological nursing or find a doctorate program with a specialization track in geriatric nurse practitioner. You can find both master’s in nursing and doctorate level geriatric nurse practitioner programs on this site. A graduate level program in gerontological nursing will include course work in advanced pharmacology, health assessment, disease prevention, diagnosis, and disease management. Find Geriatric Nurse Practitioner programs. See the Nurse Practitioner Programs page to find a program that fits your goals. You may also be interested in a Geriatric Care Management Certificate.

If you are not currently a nurse, you will need to earn your nursing degree as a first step. There are a few educational paths to choose from including a diploma program, an associate’s program or a bachelor’s program. Upon graduation from a nursing program, you will have to pass your state’s board of nursing licensing exam, which is called the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). Following an entry to nursing program there will be an educational route that will take you from diploma, ADN or BSN to the Master’s level or Doctorate level needed to prepare you for advanced practice nursing in the field of geriatrics. Your first few years out of nursing school may be well spent working in an office or department focused on gerontological nursing, so that you gain experience to one, see if you like the field and two, to gain valuable work experience that the master's or doctorate programs often like to see on an application.

Becoming nationally certified as a geriatric nurse practitioner once you have earned your degrees requires passing a computer-based certification exam given by the American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC). In order to take this exam, you must be an RN with a current license, and hold a master’s or doctorate degree from a geriatric nurse practitioner program from an accredited school of nursing. Alternatively, if you are already a certified nurse practitioner and hold certification in a different specialty, you can complete 75 hours of education in gerontological nursing and then take this certification exam.

The median salary for a GNP is relatively high for nursing. According to payscale.com, the average salary for a GNP ranges from $81,363 to $98,303 $81. This will vary depending on employer, geographic location, and will increase with added education and experience. Job prospects are especially promising for this specialization as the nation’s elderly population is growing rapidly. In fact, the elderly population is the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. Nursing in general is one of the fastest growing professions in the booming healthcare sector, and nurses with advanced degrees and training are projected to have very good job prospects especially in geriatric nursing. Government and private sector focus on helping the healthcare industry meet the growing medical needs of the large elderly population should ensure that geriatric nurse practitioner jobs will be there going forward. Take the first step in this career path by researching the educational programs, based on where your current education level is, that can help you meet your goals.

(Sources: American Nurse Credentialing Center - Geriatric NP, Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurse Association, BLS)

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