Duties, Responsibilities, Schooling, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary
Registered nurses can become specialized in a several areas of healthcare upon earning their license. These specializations vary in job responsibility, work environment, and patient group. From a vocational nurse to a nurse anesthetist, every nursing career requires different levels of education and certification. In this article, we’ll take a look at the nurses that are taking care of our elders, gerontological nurse practitioners.
Gerontological nurses specialize in providing care for older patients, usually ages 50 and older. They play a pivotal role in ensuring the highest quality of life possible for their patients.
If you’re passionate about serving the elder generation by supporting them with quality healthcare, this guide on how to become a gerontological nurse practitioner will serve you well.
Continue reading to better understand the role of a gerontological nurse practitioner, their 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. They are trained to 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 one and the same. In fact, 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 only spend three to four years in school, but their earning potential and job outlook is less than that of a gerontological nurse practitioner.
Gerontological nurse practitioners earn their master’s degree which makes 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 care to their patients. 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, retirement centers, and in-home care.
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.
In order to be eligible for certification in gerontological care, you’ll also have to gain experience working as an RN. The amount of time spent earning your nursing degree and gaining real-world experience will eventually pay off, as gerontological nurses rank amongst 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 BSN, or Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree. If you’re just starting out, a BSN program will take you about three to four years to complete. However, if you’ve already earned your associates degree in nursing, you can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program. These bridge programs can be completed in as little as 20 months.
Accelerated nursing programs are also available to licensed vocational or practical nurses with an associate’s 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 or qualified to enter the workforce as a registered nurse (RN).
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 that specialize in geriatric care; however it’s not required that your master’s degree has this specialization. MSN programs usually take about 18 to 24 months to complete.
4. Gain Real-World Experience Working as an RN
As mentioned earlier, you’ll have to gain experience working as an RN in order to earn your certification in gerontology. The American Nurses Credentials Center (ANCC) requires a minimum of 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours before sitting for their exam.
There are also three separate graduate-level courses in physiology, health assessment, and pharmacology you must complete in order to be eligible. Depending on the MSN program you choose, these eligibility requirements may be included in the curriculum.
5. Pass the Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam
The current gerontological certification exam offered by the ANCC allots 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.
Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Salary
How Much Do Gerontological Nurse Practitioners Make?
Gerontological nurses rank amongst the highest-paid nursing specialties in the US. According to PayScale.com, the median annual wage earned by gerontological nurse practitioners is $89,291.
What Is the Job Outlook for Gerontological Nurse Practitioners?
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have specific data regarding the job outlook of gerontological nurse practitioners, they do report that the overall employment of nurse practitioners will grow 28% by 2026. This growth rate is significantly higher than the average growth rate of all other occupations (7%).
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 elders, and that’s priceless.
If you’re prepared to begin the journey to becoming a gerontological nurse practitioner, you can start by earning your BSN degree at Provo College. Click here to learn more about our BSN program.
Your future starts today!