Female nurse with patient

How to Become a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner

Duties, Responsibilities, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

Female nurse with patient

Before choosing the type of nurse you’d like to become, you should consider the patients you are most likely to treat. Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioners (AGNPs) work with a wide range of the aging population. They are also one of the highest-paid nurses in the United States.

In addition to their higher salaries, Gerontological Nurses rank high on our list of top nursing careers because of their immeasurably vital role in our healthcare system, as well as their independence and autonomy as nurse practitioners.

(Click here to see our full list of highest paying nursing jobs).

For an aspiring nurse who is interested in treating patients from adolescence through geriatrics, pursuing such a path could lead to an incredibly rewarding career.

Continue reading our comprehensive career guide to learn more about the requirements, responsibilities, training, and average salaries of Gerontology Nurse Practitioners.

Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Definition

What Is a Gerontological Nurse?

The role of a Gerontological Nurse can be defined as an advanced practice nurse with a clinical focus on treating patients from adolescence through adult ages and into geriatrics.

Thanks to their advanced degree and training, Gerontological Nurses work with a broad patient population in numerous settings. They have the authority to prescribe medication, order and analyze diagnostic tests, and develop treatment plans for their patients.

There are two primary types of Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioners:

  1. Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP) – These nurses work with adults who suffer from acute illnesses. Their areas of practice may include critical care, cardio-pulmonary, emergency/trauma care, oncology, or surgery. AG-ACNPs are authorized to diagnose and treat a wide variety of medical conditions.
  2. Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-PNCP) – AG-PCNP nurses provide care to adults and adolescents. It’s their job to help their patients lead healthier lifestyles while educating them on topics such as disease prevention or managing chronic illnesses. AG-PNCPs can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including internal medicine, student health, clinics, and ambulatory care centers.

Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Requirements

How to Become a Gerontology Nurse

To become a Gerontological Nurse, you must earn a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN) as well as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.

During this process, you must also pass the NCLEX-RN exam in order to become a licensed Registered Nurse (RN).

As a final step, you can seek Nurse Practitioner (NP) certification from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

A typical AGNP position may include the following job requirements:

  1. Current RN license
  2. Master’s degree in Nursing
  3. Nurse Practitioner certification
  4. Prior professional experience as an RN or Nurse Practitioner

Becoming a Gerontological Nurse Might Be a Good Fit for You If…

  • You like working with adults and the elderly
  • You are not squeamish around sickness or injury
  • You possess strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • You have a detail-oriented nature
  • You have basic computer skills to maintain patient records

Gerontological Nurse Duties & Responsibilities

What Does a Gerontological Nurse Do?

As people age, they can become fragile and require specialized care. Gerontological Nurses not only care for the elderly, but they also serve a wide range of patient groups, from adolescence through adulthood.

Gerontological Nurses conduct patient exams, diagnose health problems, develop patient treatment plans, and prescribe medications. They can also evaluate the performance of these treatment plans, adjusting them as necessary, and keeping detailed records of their patient’s history and progress.

A Gerontological Nurse’s job description typically includes a number of tasks that may include but are not limited to the following responsibilities:

  • Analyzing patients’ health histories, symptoms, and diagnostic information to develop appropriate diagnoses
  • Developing comprehensive treatment plans
  • Prescribing medications as well as dosages, routes, and frequencies
  • Educating patients on the risks and side effects associated with medication
  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, such as blood counts, electrocardiograms, and X-rays
  • Educating patients and caregivers about self-management of acute or chronic illnesses and conditions
  • Diagnosing and treating common acute healthcare problems such as illnesses, infections, and injuries
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of a patient’s treatment plan and making changes when necessary

Where Do Gerontological Nurses Work?

Gerontological Nurses can work in a variety of medical centers and facilities, including the following healthcare settings:

  • Private practices
  • Specialty clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Community health centers
  • Healthcare technology companies
  • Healthcare research
  • Schools and colleges

Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Hours

Like many other nursing specialties, the hours of a Gerontological Nurse will depend on their employer and work setting.

For example, AGNPs who work in hospitals and specialty clinics may have to work weekends and night shifts, while others may need to be on call.

Gerontological Nurse’s Uniform

Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioners typically wear scrubs to safely accomplish their job duties. Depending on the workplace setting, they may also wear white lab coats.

Healthcare employers will usually outline these requirements for each Nurse Practitioner.

Gerontological Nursing Education

What Is the Required Training for a Gerontological Nurse?

In order to become a Geriatric Nurse, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree as well as your RN license.

To become a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, however, you will also need to obtain a master’s degree with a focus on adult-gerontology.

Some schools offer a Master’s Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN), which allows potential students who have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to earn their Masters in Nursing.

Steps to Becoming a Gerontological Nurse

Step 1: Earn an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Step 2: Pass the NCLEX-RN certification exam to become a licensed Registered Nurse (RN).

Step 3: Obtain a master’s degree in nursing and Nurse Practitioner certification.

Step 4: Gain a few years of experience working as an RN or Nurse Practitioner.

Geriatric patient

Gerontological Nursing Programs

If you’d like to know about the core curriculum of a Gerontological Nursing program, you should look at nursing courses that fall under the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, as this is the requisite higher education you must receive to become an AGNP.

To give you a better idea, MSN programs may cover the following advanced nursing topics:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Assessment
  • Advanced Practice Geriatric, Pediatric, Adult, and Newborn Nursing
  • Nursing Ethics
  • Research
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Public Health

Gerontological Nursing School Cost

As stated earlier, you must earn a master’s degree to become an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner.

Tuition costs for MSN-degree programs are usually listed on a per-credit-hour basis, ranging anywhere from $500 to $1,000 (or more) per credit.

The following considerations should also be taken into account before enrolling in an MSN program:

  • Tuition costs usually do not include extra expenses, such as books, program fees, and other mandatory fees.
  • Many schools offer some form of financial aid.
  • While you will likely accumulate student debt, the average Gerontological Nurse Practitioner earns around $97,000 per year (PayScale.com).

Gerontological Nursing Certification

Though it depends on your location and employer, most Gerontological Nursing positions require certification as a Nurse Practitioner.

Both the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) provide certification for this specialized role.

The ANCC offers two certifications for Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioners, one for acute care and one for primary care. Some eligibility requirements for ANCC certification include:

  • An active RN license
  • Completion of a master’s, postgraduate, or doctoral degree in nursing with an emphasis on adult gerontology nursing
  • A minimum of 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours
  • Three separate, graduate-level courses in:
    • Advanced physiology/pathophysiology, including general principles that apply across the lifespan
    • Advanced health assessment, which includes assessment of all human systems, advanced assessment techniques, concepts, and approaches
    • Advanced pharmacology, which includes pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacotherapeutics of all broad categories of agents

To learn more about the exams, fees, study resources, and continuing education, be sure to visit the ANCC or AANP.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Gerontological Nurse?

The estimated time commitment to become a Gerontological Nurse could take anywhere from four to seven years, depending on your level of nursing education and prior experience.

For example, your BSN degree alone could take about three to four years to complete. Current RNs, however, can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program, which can take as little as 12 months to complete.

The time it takes to earn your master’s degree from an accredited program also depends on your starting point.

If you already have your bachelor’s degree (be it a nursing or a non-nursing concentration), you can earn your Master of Science in Nursing degree in about two years.

You must also earn your RN license before applying for Gerontological Nursing certification with the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Gerontological Nurse’s Salary

How Much Does a Gerontological Nurse Make?

The average salary of a Gerontological Nurse is $97,000 per year (or $50.69 per hour), according to PayScale.

Nurse Practitioners, in general, can earn anywhere from $80,670 to over $182,750 (BLS).

To put that in perspective, RNs earn a median pay of about $71,730 per year. Specialization can make a significant difference in your salary.

It’s important to remember that a Gerontological Nurse’s pay will likely be influenced by their employer and location, not to mention their level of experience.

Highest Paying Industries for Gerontological Nurses

Here is a list of occupational settings where some Nurse Practitioners might work, ranked in order of average salary (BLS):

Industry Average Hourly Wage Average Salary
Personal Care Services $67.20 $139,770
Emergency & Relief Services $63.43 $131,930
Mental Health & Substance Abuse Facilities $56.46 $117,440
Outpatient Care Centers $56.04 $116,550
Specialty Hospitals $55.23 $114,880
General Hospitals $54.76 $113,900
Offices of other Health Practitioners $53.62 $111,520
Offices of physicians $51.70 $107,530
Colleges & Universities $48.45 $100,770

Your city or state of residence can also affect your salary as a nurse practitioner.

Highest Paying States for Gerontological Nurses

Below are some of the highest-paying states for nurse practitioners, taken directly from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

State Average Hourly Wage Average Salary
California $64.32 $133,780
Alaska $59.08 $122,880
Massachusetts $59.01 $122,740
New Jersey $58.70 $122,100
New York $58.16 $120,970

Highest Paying Cities for Gerontological Nurses

Here are the highest-paying cities for nurse practitioners:

City Average Hourly Wage Average Salary
New Bedford, MA $75.47 $156,980
San Francisco, CA $72.50 $150,790
Spokane, WA $71.37 $148,440
Sumter, SC $70.14 $145,890
Vallejo, CA $69.90 $145,400
Leominster, MA $69.72 $145,020
Yuma, AZ $68.58 $142,650
Rochester, MN $68.58 $142,650
Palm Bay, FL $68.18 $141,800
Bridgeport, CT $68.01 $141,460

Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Job Outlook

Gerontological Nursing Jobs in the Years Ahead

Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not specifically report on the job outlook of Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioners, they do state that employment of nurse practitioners is expected to increase by 26 percent by 2028 (BLS).

The BLS has identified various factors for this projected increase. They mainly include an increased emphasis on preventive care and a greater demand for healthcare services from the aging population.

Why You Should Pursue a Career as a Gerontological Nurse

Like the other nursing specialties on our list, Gerontological Nursing is a rewarding path in the healthcare field. Not only does it offer a generous salary, it empowers to alleviate the suffering of countless individuals.

AGNPs care for patients from adolescence through adulthood and into advanced age (geriatrics). Unlike most Registered Nurses, an AGNP has the authority to prescribe medication, analyze diagnostic tests, and develop full-treatment plans for their patients.

Jobs for Nurse Practitioners are in high demand, and employers are constantly looking for the next superstar to join their team. It’s never too late to embark on your dream career.

If you’re an aspiring nurse but don’t know where to begin, you can earn your BSN degree or enroll in one of several nursing programs at Unitek College.