Asian nurse helping an elderly woman

How to Become a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner

Duties, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

Asian nurse helping an elderly woman

After earning their license, Registered Nurses may choose an area of specialty. These specializations vary in job responsibility, work environment, and types of patients. Every nursing career requires different levels of education and certification. In this article, we’ll look at the nurses caring for our elders, Gerontological Nurse Practitioners.

(Click here to see our full list of highest-paid nursing jobs)

Gerontological Nurses provide care for older patients, usually ages 50 and older. They play a pivotal role in ensuring their patients’ highest quality of life possible.

If you’re passionate about serving the older generation by supporting them with quality healthcare, this guide on becoming a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner will help.

Continue reading to understand a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner’s role, job responsibilities, salary*, and educational requirements.

Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Definition

What Is a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner?

Gerontological Nurse Practitioners tailor their care to the specific needs of their elderly patients. As a result, they help older adults maintain their independence, mobility, and overall quality of life. Gerontological Nurses can also provide psychosocial care to their elderly patients, who may be experiencing depression or loneliness.

Gerontological Nurse Practitioners vs. Geriatric Nurses

What’s the Difference Between a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner and a Geriatric Nurse?

People sometimes confuse Gerontological Nurse Practitioners with Geriatric Nurses or may assume they are the same. However, these two professions differ in educational requirements, certification, and earning potential.

Geriatric Nurses are BSN-RNs who have earned a certification in gerontological nursing. Geriatric Nurses spend three to four years in school, but their earning potential and job outlook are less than that of a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner.

Gerontological Nurse Practitioners earn their master’s degree, making them eligible for a higher level of certification in gerontology. An MSN deepens their knowledge and skills and qualifies them for leadership positions in the field.

Gerontological Nurse Practitioner: Job Description

What Does a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Do?

A Gerontological Nurse Practitioner cares for the elderly by developing and implementing treatment plans for chronic illnesses and conditions. They also educate patients and their families regarding their condition.

Gerontological Nurses work alongside physicians and social workers to provide individualized patient care. As stated before, they can also provide psychosocial care for patients struggling with any mental health issues they may be experiencing throughout their care.

Gerontological Nurse Practitioner: Day-to-Day Responsibilities

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of Gerontological Nurse Practitioners include:

  • Assisting physicians or performing exams and procedures
  • Developing and implementing a patient care plan
  • Prescribing and administering medications to patients
  • Educating patients and their family members about their health condition
  • Providing emotional support and psychosocial care to patients

Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Jobs

Where Do Gerontological Nurse Practitioners Work?

Gerontological Nurse Practitioners can work in a variety of healthcare settings. However, they most commonly work at hospitals, nursing homes, senior centers, and provide in-home care.

Young African-American nurse in a clinic

Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Schooling & Certification

How Long Does It Take to Become a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner?

What Degree Do You Need to be a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner?

Becoming a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner requires 6 to 8 years of education and nursing training.

To be eligible for certification in gerontological care, you’ll also have to gain experience working as an RN. However, the amount of time spent earning your nursing degree and gaining real-world experience will eventually pay off, as Gerontological Nurses rank among the highest paying nursing jobs.

Here are the steps required to become a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner:

1. Earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree

The first step to becoming a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner is earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). A BSN program will take about three to four years to complete if you’re just starting. However, if you’ve already earned your associates degree in nursing, you can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program. These bridge programs may take as few as 20 months.

Accelerated nursing programs are also available to Licensed Vocational or Practical Nurses with an associate degree in vocational nursing (AVSN). These LPN, or LVN to BSN, courses allow you to skip the first three semesters of the BSN program.

2. Pass the NCLEX-RN Certification Exam

Upon earning your BSN degree, you’ll have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to earn your nursing license. With the NCLEX, you’ll be licensed to enter the workforce as a Registered Nurse (RN).

(Click here to read our NCLEX-RN Exam Review & Study Guide)

3. Earn a Master of Science in Nursing Degree

To become a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, you must first earn your Master of Science Degree in Nursing (MSN). There are MSN programs specializing in geriatric care, though the specialization is not required. MSN programs usually take about 18 to 24 months to complete.

4. Have Real-World Experience Working as an RN

As mentioned earlier, you’ll need experience working as an RN to earn your certification in gerontology. The American Nurses Credentials Center (ANCC) requires 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours before sitting for their exam.

You must complete three separate graduate-level courses in physiology, health assessment, and pharmacology to be eligible.

5. Pass the Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam

The current gerontological certification exam offered by the ANCC allows you 4 hours to answer 200 questions (175 scored questions plus 25 pretest questions that are not scored).

You can apply for the computer-based exam year-round and test during a 90-day window at a time and location near you. Upon passing the exam, you’ll be on your way to working as a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner. Your certification is valid for five years and can be renewed by application up to 1 year before expiration.

Medical students writing in notebooks

Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Salary

How Much Do Gerontological Nurse Practitioners Make?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary* of Nurse Practitioners, which includes Gerontological Nurse Practitioners, was about $118,000 per year or about $57 per hour in 2021. The top 10% of Nurse Practitioners earned $163,000 or more per year.

Highest Paying Industries for Gerontological Nurses

According to the BLS, these are the industries where you’re most likely to find the top-paying jobs for Gerontological Nurse Practitioners:

Industry Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Home Health Care Services $64.03 $133,170
Psychiatric Hospitals $63.38 $131,830
Outpatient Care Centers $62.11 $129,190
General Hospitals $59.12 $122,960
Physicians’ Offices $55.23 $114,870

Highest Paying States for Gerontological Nurses

According to the BLS, these are the states where you’re most likely to find the top-paying jobs for Gerontological Nurse Practitioners:

State  Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
California $72.99 $151,830
New Jersey $65.87 $137,010
New York $64.39 $133,940
Washington $62.90 $130,840
Massachusetts $62.28 $129,540

Highest Paying Cities for Gerontological Nurses

According to the BLS, these are the cities where you’re most likely to find the top-paying jobs for Gerontological Nurse Practitioners:

City Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
San Jose, CA $95.13 $197,870
Napa, CA $88.80 $184,700
Fairfield, CA $86.72 $180,380
San Francisco, CA $85.18 $177,160
Yuba City, CA $76.57 $159,260
San Luis Obispo, CA $73.70 $153,300
Sacramento, CA $73.58 $153,050
Santa Rosa, CA $73.15 $152,150
Santa Cruz, CA $72.25 $150,280
Fresno, CA $71.04 $147,760

What is the Job Outlook for Gerontological Nurse Practitioners?

According to the BLS, the job growth for Nurse Practitioners is projected to increase by 45% from 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations (8%). There is increasing demand for Gerontological Practitioners to care for the aging Baby Boomer generation.

Smiling healthcare professional in a lab coat

Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Career

Are You Ready to Start Your Career as a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner?

If you’re passionate about taking care of our elders and making sure they maintain the highest quality of life possible, you’ll find a career in gerontological nursing both gratifying and rewarding. The work you’ll do will allow younger generations to have more time with their aging family members, and that’s priceless.

Begin the journey to becoming a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner by earning your BSN degree at Provo College. Click here to learn more about our BSN program.

Your future starts today!