A gerontological nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse who works primarily with elderly patients. Students learning about gerontological nursing through a two year master's degree gain a thorough understanding of the aging process, as well as the types of diseases and illnesses that most commonly affect the elderly. They also study new and emerging technologies related to healthful aging. To enroll, students will need an undergraduate nursing degree and a registered nursing license.
Clinical practice provides the advanced nursing skills needed to care for elderly patients in hospitals, healthcare clinics, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities. In addition, students take courses related to management and leadership, since they may be responsible for overseeing a team of registered nurses, nursing assistants, and home healthcare aides once they graduate and receive a position in the workforce.
Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Program
In addition to providing students with a basic understanding of the aging process and advanced practice nursing theories, courses included within an MSN in gerontological nursing degree program cover clinical care and methods of healthcare research. Some course topics may include:
- Epidemiologic research in advanced nursing practice
- Advanced pathophysiology
- Aging and healthcare
- Primary care in gerontology
- Chronic clinical care in gerontology
- Disease management in gerontology
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Gerontological nurse practitioners can go on to work with licensed physicians in several healthcare settings. Some of these include:
- Private physicians' offices
- Long-term nursing care facilities
- Community health clinics
- General medical and surgical hospitals
- Employee health facilities
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for all registered nurses, including nurse practitioners, were predicted to increase 16% between 2014 and 2024. Nurse practitioners earned average salaries of $101,260 as of May 2015, reports the BLS.
The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners offers certification for nurse practitioners who are specializing in gerontology and other specialized fields. The American Nurses Credentialing Center, a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association, offers certification for gerontological nurse practitioners. Both organizations require nurse practitioners to have at least a master's degree in the field, and to sit for an examination before they can gain certification.
A master's in nursing with a gerontological nursing specialization trains registered nurses in the skills necessary to care for elderly patients. Following graduation, there is professional certification available specifically for gerontological nurses.