When you want to provide healthcare services for patients of different ages, ranging from adolescents through elderly individuals, a career as an adult gerontology nurse practitioner (AGNP) might be right for you. This career allows you to help adolescents and adults stay healthy or to treat medical problems, as needed, as they age. Working as an AGNP can be a highly rewarding career choice in the nursing field. If you’re considering this type of career, keep the following information on these NPs in mind.
What Does an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Do?
AGNPs can provide acute care or primary care to adolescents, young adults, middle-aged adults, and elderly adults. Acute care involves treating injuries or illnesses and making sure patients are in stable condition. These cases are often more severe, such as sudden illnesses and injuries. Those who provide acute care most often work in a hospital, urgent care center, or inpatient facility.
Some AGNPs provide patients with primary care rather than acute care. These AGNPs help patients maintain health and avoid illnesses by offering advice and education on staying as healthy as possible through their adult years. They provide guidance from nutritional advice to information on managing a chronic condition. AGNPs who provide primary care usually work in physician’s offices or community clinics rather than hospitals and similar facilities. These AGNPs might work with the same patients through several decades of their adult lives.
Typical AGNP job responsibilities can include checking medical histories, prescribing medication, ordering diagnostic tests, analyzing test results, and creating treatment plans. They can also change treatment plans and provide patients with education on health and wellness or specific medical conditions. Primary AGNPs might treat minor illnesses or flareups of chronic conditions while acute AGNPs are focused on treating sudden or severe illnesses.
How Long Does It Take to Become an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner?
You can expect to spend several years in school before becoming an AGNP. You’ll first need to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, which can take up to 4 years. When you have your BSN degree, you should then pursue and earn your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). While this can take about 2 years to complete, it can also offer the opportunity to become nationally certified and practice as an AGNP.
If you choose to earn a doctorate degree, such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), you’ll spend another couple of years in school. Keep in mind that part-time degree programs are available so that you can start working as an AGNP while working toward a DNP. After getting your MSN degree, you’ll need to become certified, which usually can be accomplished in less than a year. Overall, you might be able to become an AGNP in around 6 years or so.
Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Salary and Job Outlook
What can you expect to earn as an AGNP? And will there be enough jobs available? Learning more about the job outlook and salary for this career can help you decide if it’s right for you. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide specific information on adult gerontological nurse practitioners or the average AGNP salary. However, knowing the job outlook and salary for nurse practitioners, in general, can give you an idea of what to expect. According to BLS, the job growth rate for nurse practitioners is projected to come in at 45 percent by 2029—a significantly higher rate than average. For comparison, the job outlook overall in the U.S. is 4 percent.
In terms of salary, the mean annual wage for nurse practitioners is $114,510, according to BLS. This salary can vary by industry with those working in physician’s offices earning roughly $111,310 per year and those working in hospitals earning roughly $118,210 annually. Keep in mind that your salary as an AGNP will likely also depend on the city or town you’re in, how many years of experience you have, and whether or not you have a specialty, such as cancer care or diabetic care.
How to Become an AGNP
Becoming an AGNP involves completing a few steps in terms of your education and certification. When you’ve gone through these steps, you can look for work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, or other healthcare settings, depending on the kind of position you’re interested in.
1. Earn a BSN Degree
Before you can work as an AGNP, you’ll need to earn your BSN degree. This degree teaches you the basics of nursing and helps you develop the skills needed to be a registered nurse. You’ll need a BSN degree before pursuing a more advanced degree, such as your MSN degree.
2. Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam
When you have your BSN degree, you’ll need to become licensed to work as a registered nurse (RN). This involves passing the NCLEX-RN exam. You should spend time making sure you’re fully prepared for the exam. Take practice tests and read through study guides. After you pass the NCLEX-RN exam, you can apply for your license to work as a registered nurse.
3. Gain Experience Working with Geriatric Patients
While AGNPs work with adult patients of all ages, you should make sure you gain firsthand experience providing care for geriatric patients. Due to the higher risk of health issues among the elderly, it’s important to be able to offer compassionate and proper care. You can gain this type of experience while you’re working toward your BSN degree. You might also consider volunteering at local hospitals and other facilities that provide geriatric care.
4. Earn Your MSN
After you earn your BSN and successfully complete at least 500 clinical practice hours to acquire your RN license, you should pursue an advanced degree. With an MSN degree and certification, you’ll be well on your way to practice as an AGNP. This degree provides you with the advanced training and education needed to work as a nurse practitioner. You can choose to specialize in adult gerontology while earning your MSN degree. This helps you prepare to work as an AGNP and ensures that you’ll have the skills and knowledge you need to provide quality care for adolescents and adults of all ages.
5. Pass the AGNP Certification Exam
As part of the requirements to work as an AGNP, you’ll need to become certified. This involves taking and passing an AGNP certification exam. Organizations that offer these exams include the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board. You can typically choose which organization you want to earn your AGNP certification through. Keep in mind there are certain qualifications you’ll need to meet in order to take an AGNP exam, such as graduating with an approved degree program with accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
6. Consider a Doctorate Degree
You don’t have to stop with school once you earn your MSN degree. You can advance your education further and earn your DNP degree. With a DNP, you might also find additional career opportunities as well as positions that pay a higher salary. In some cases, BSN to DNP programs are offered. These programs allow you to earn a DNP right after completing a BSN degree program rather than earning an MSN degree first. This might be an option to consider if you’re trying to shorten the amount of time it takes to become an AGNP.
If you would like more information on earning your MSN with an AGNP specialization, please contact American Sentinel College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Post University. We offer a Master of Science in Nursing degree program with an Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Specialization. We can help you work toward your goal of becoming an AGNP.
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