Gerontology Nurse Practitioner: Career Summary, Job Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Research what it takes to become a gerontology nurse practitioner. Learn about education and licensing requirements, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Family Nurse Practitioner degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Gerontology Nurse Practitioner?

A gerontology nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse who focuses on elderly patients and the diseases, ailments and illnesses most common to this demographic. While the scope of practice may change from state to state, nurse practitioners in general assess patients and determine the best way to manage a patient's health. This is a career that requires a significant amount of formal education, as well as certification and continuing education. It also affords a high degree of responsibility, and often autonomy, in treatment decisions and implementation.

The following chart provides an overview of becoming a gerontology nurse practitioner.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Nursing
Licensure or Certification Licensure as a registered nurse (RN) is required; professional certification in gerontology is available
Key Responsibilities Examine and assess patient's physical and mental status and cognitive ability; diagnose and prescribe treatment for illnesses and conditions of aging; order diagnostic tests and analyze results; provide referrals and counsel patients on health issues
Job Growth (2014-2024) 35% for all nurse practitioners*
Average Salary (2015) $98,190 for all nurse practitioners*

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

What Does a Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Do?

Gerontology nurse practitioners (GNP), or geriatric nurses, assess symptoms and provide treatment to elderly patients. As a GNP, you'll evaluate and manage acute and chronic health care problems in elderly patients. Some of your job duties include administering treatments, delivering medications and prepping patients for procedures. You'll work with physicians and caregivers to promote and maintain health and quality of life for the elderly. You'll work with doctors to implement long term care plans for patients suffering from illness and for patients nearing the end of their lives.

What Can I Expect from this Career?

According to the National Gerontological Nursing Association, the defined age for geriatric patients is 65 years old (www.ngna.org). As baby boomers reach this age, gerontology nurses are in higher demand. Your job prospects may be better if you are a bilingual nurse. Geriatric nurses can find jobs in hospitals, retirement communities, nursing homes, rehabilitation clinics and other health care facilities. According to Salary.com, most nurse practitioners earned between $86,765 and $117,227 as of 2016.

What Should I Study?

If you want to become a gerontology nurse practitioner, you must first seek nursing training. These training programs teach you medical terminology, nursing principles, healthcare systems, nursing ethics and basic patient care. Once you have earned a bachelor's degree and become an RN, you can seek out a master's degree program.

Many colleges provide gerontological nurse practitioner programs. These master's degree programs include a clinical that puts you in a geriatric ward working with doctors and geriatric patients. The programs teach subjects including health economics, hospital operations, systemic pathophysiology, gaining psychology, pharmacology, health assessment and adult syndromes.

How Can I Get Certified?

The first step to becoming a certified geriatric nurse is to seek certification through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). There are two exams offered; the NCLEX-RN for registered nurses and the NCLEX-PN for licensed practical nurses. These exams are given by Pearson VUE facilities. You can take the exam any time throughout the year.

Once you are a registered nurse, seek out credentialing through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). One of the certification exams available is the Gerontological Nursing Certification. In order to sit for this exam you must be a registered nurse for two years and have 30 continuing education hours in the gerontological nursing field (including at least 2,000 hours of clinical experience).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are many occupations with similar education requirements and a similar scope of responsibility as a nurse practitioner. These include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech pathologists. All are healthcare professions, and require completion of a master's degree or specific postgraduate program. Occupational therapists work with patients to build or improve skills for everyday living, while physical therapists help patients improve mobility and manage pain. Speech pathologists work with patients who have communication or swallowing disorders.

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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