What's the Job Description of a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner?

Research what it takes to become a geriatric nurse practitioner. Learn about job duties, salary and work environment to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Adult Health Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner?

Geriatric nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice nurses who specialize in providing care to older adults. They may find work in general medical settings, such as family clinics and hospitals, or they may work in facilities focused specifically on care for the elderly, such as nursing homes. In most states, they are qualified to consult with patients about their current conditions, run diagnostic tests, analyze results, diagnose conditions and come up with treatment strategies, including prescription medications. Some geriatric nurse practitioners also conduct research in the field, and they may advocate for policies that support the needs of elderly patients.

The following chart provides an overview about a career as a geriatric nurse practitioner.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Nursing
Licensure or Certification Licensure as a registered nurse (RN) is required by all states; board certification is available
Key Responsibilities Provide primary care to elderly patients; perform examinations, order diagnostic tests and diagnose health conditions; prescribe and administer medication and treatment; advise patients about their health issues
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 35% (for all nurse practitioners)
Median Salary (2015)* $98,190 (for all nurse practitioners)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Are the Responsibilities of a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner?

Your responsibilities as a geriatric nurse practitioner will be similar to those of other advanced nurse practitioners. This can include providing information on treatment and medications to patients and their families, monitoring treatments and keeping detailed records of patient care. You may also be responsible for supervising other nurses and hospital staff, as well as providing supervision for standards of safety, care quality and patients' rights.

As an advanced practice nurse with a graduate degree, you would be involved in prescribing medicine and treatment, diagnosis and implementing the plan of care. You may also consult with physicians and coordinate patient care with other healthcare practitioners. Teaching patients and their caregivers how to manage an illness, and, in some cases, administer certain treatments at home may also be part of your duties.

What Is Unique about Geriatric Nursing?

As a geriatric nurse you may encounter patients who require long-term care for chronic illnesses, such as Alzheimer's or dementia, diabetes, kidney disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Some patients need palliative care to manage their disease and maintain quality of life throughout the term of the disease. Also, elderly patients may have more than one health issue, making care more complex. For instance, you would take into consideration the interactions of different medications taken by the patient.

Work Environment

You may pursue employment at a variety of healthcare environments, including hospitals, private physician offices, hospice facilities, retirement communities, or assisted living situations. Wherever you find employment, the range of patient needs will vary greatly. Your position may require transporting patients between institutions or between institutions and home.

Some patients will require minimal care, while others will be heavily dependent on you for assistance. In addition to providing emotional support to the patients and their families, your position may also require an understanding of adult development and sympathy for the aging process.

Older adults can bring more life experience and certainty of their values to illness and recovery but also more apprehension about the future. In caring for these adults, you may need to respond to these concerns.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a several other job options for advanced practice nurses. For instance, they may choose to specialize in the treatment of a different group of patients, such as adults or pediatric patients. Alternatively, they may become nurse anesthetists, who administer anesthesia during surgery procedures and provide direct patient care both before and after the procedure. Another option is a job as a nurse midwife. These professionals provide reproductive care for women before, during and after childbirth. It is important to note that all advanced practice nurses must hold a graduate degree and pass a certification exam.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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