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How To Become An Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

If you enjoy helping older people or have a knack for senior care, you may have your sights set on a career in gerontology nursing.

If you still want to care for younger adults, you can focus instead on becoming an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner (AGNP). As an AGNP, you'll work with patients from adolescence through to their senior years. You can perform an array of duties and work in a variety of healthcare settings.

What is An Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner?

Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners (AGNPs) treat adults of all ages, from young adults right on through to those of advanced age.

The field of gerontology refers specifically to older adults and their care. AGNPs are often mistakenly believed to be nurses that work exclusively with people of this age group. But that's simply not the case and that's where the "adult" aspect comes in.

Where Does "Gerontology" Come From?

In Greek, the word "γέρος" or "geros" means "old man" while "ology" translates to something like "study of".

Interestingly, the "logist" refers to an expert, so a gerontologist would essentially be "an expert in old men".

What Does An Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Do?

AGNPs perform a range of duties for adult patients of all ages. These include:

  • Conduct patient exams
  • Develop treatment plans
  • Arrange diagnostic tests
  • Prescribe medications
  • Educate patients and caregivers with regard to self-management
  • Diagnose and treat illnesses
  • Determine the effectiveness of current treatment plans

What is the Difference Between FNP and ANGP?

An FNP is a family nurse practitioner while an AGNP is an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner. They both perform a range of duties for patients of varying ages, but there is one key difference between the two.

FNPs are advanced practice registered nurses who work with children, as well as adults. As with AGNP, they care for young adults and older adults, but they also deal with children and infants.

An adult-gerontology nurse, on the other hand, usually starts working with patients from their teenage years and beyond.

As far as education and qualifications are concerned, these two fields are very similar. Both specialties also earn very respectable salaries, as do all nurse practitioners.

How Do You Become an AGNP?

To become an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, you must follow these steps:

Step One: Apply for a Nursing Degree

The first step is to acquire an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree from an accredited nursing program. If you opt for the former, you'll need to switch to a BSN degree or go through an RN to MSN program.

You'll learn about all the essentials of nursing practice and will acquire the skills you'll use throughout your nursing career.

Step Two: Become a Registered Nurse

Complete the NCLEX-RN to get your registered nurse license. From here, you can take your career in many different directions.

Step Three: Get Experience

Once you have your RN license, it's time to get some nursing experience. Most nurse practitioners have at least 2 years of experience, during which time you can still choose a different specialty if you decide that becoming an adult-gerontology nurse is not right for you.

Step Four: Graduate with a Nursing Degree

Advance onto an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner program.

Step Five: Become a Certified Nurse Practitioner

Finally, it's time to get certified! There are a few different certifications available:

A-GNP Certification

A-GNP stands for "Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner" and is offered by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can qualify if you are a licensed nurse and will receive a nationally-recognized certification in adult-gerontology nursing.

AGPCNP-BC Certification

The Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP-BC) certification is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

To apply, you'll need a nursing license and must have completed an accredited graduate program.

AGACNP-BC Certification

Also offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP-BC) certification is similar and has the same requirements. The difference is that it focuses on acute care as opposed to primary care.

Where Do AGNPs Work?

Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners work in a variety of settings across the healthcare industry. Primarily, however, they work in long-care facilities, certified nursing facilities, and primary care facilities. They can also work in correctional institutes.

It has been estimated that just 6% of nurse practitioners enter this field and as the US senior population increases, so will the demand for nurse practitioners skilled in caring for older adults.

To give you an idea of where skilled gerontological nurse practitioners may be needed, check out the table below, including a list of the states with the most certified nursing facilities and residents.

StateCertified Nursing FacilitiesResidents
District of Columbia141,256
New Hampshire746,397
New Jersey36142,413
New Mexico715,510
New York57089,775
North Carolina42436,148
North Dakota805,321
Rhode Island807,558
South Carolina18415,563
South Dakota1045,585
West Virginia1239,278

*Information taken from Statista. (1) (2)

How Much Do AGNPs Earn?

As nurse practitioners, AGNPs can earn a mean average salary of $114,510, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the amount you earn as a gerontology nurse will depend on your location, with states like California and New Jersey paying some of the highest NP salaries.

Summary: Becoming an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

The field of adult-gerontology is very challenging and rewarding. You will be working with a range of individuals across a wide range of age groups (from teenage to geriatric patients) and with a variety of acute and chronic illnesses.

It's also a very financially rewarding career, one that returns an average salary in excess of $100,000 and offers lots of opportunities for personal and professional growth.

What's more, adult gerontological nurses also receive the following benefits:

  • Maternity Leave
  • Life Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • Paid Leave
  • Bereavement Leave
  • Continuing Education Reimbursement
  • Dependent Health Insurance Coverage

If you have a caring nature, a good bedside manner, strong leadership skills, and excellent critical thinking skills, you could be perfect for adult gerontological nursing.

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