How to Become an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner? (Answered by an NP)
Written By: Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Are you currently working in the hospital setting as a nurse but feeling stuck in your current position. Do you get the desire or urge to advance your degree further to deliver care to your adult and older adult patients? Have you found yourself googling or wondering what is an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner? If so, please read below on what an adult-gerontology acute care NP is and how to become an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner.
What Does An Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Do?
So, what does an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner do? The adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner duties include providing care to the adult and older adult population in the acute care or hospital setting. This means they may provide care to patients in various locations throughout the hospital, including medical-surgical floors, step-down units, and intensive care units (ICUs). They do not typically manage a patient in outpatient settings or long-term care settings, but some specialty clinics such as Endocrine hire adult-gerontology acute care NPs.
The adult-gerontology acute care NP works directly alongside their team, including other advanced practice providers, physicians, specialties, and interdisciplinary teams, to ensure their patients receive the best care possible. Daily, the adult-gerontology acute care NP assesses their patients, reviews diagnostic imaging and labs, and develops or modifies the treatment plan based on the results—this is done through prescribing medications or other treatments to further support the patient in their recovery. The adult-gerontology acute care NP works directly with nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, nutrition/dieticians, and others to ensure the patient and their family receive the appropriate care and services needed.
What Skills And Abilities Are Needed To Work As An Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP?
Becoming an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner requires a variety of skills and abilities. The adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner skills include technical and interpersonal skills. Below I provide a list of 5 essential skills for those who desire to work as an adult-gerontology acute care NP (in no particular order).
1. Strong Communication Skills:
You must have strong communication skills to ensure the delivery of high-quality healthcare. All-day, you are communicating with your team members and interprofessional team to make sure everyone is on the same page with the goals for the patient to ensure the patient is receiving the appropriate treatment. You also constantly communicate with the patient and their family—updating them on progress education regarding diagnosis or medications and answering their questions.
As an adult-gerontology acute care NP, your team will consist of multiple people, including nurses, other specialties, respiratory, physical therapy, occupational therapy, case management, and many others. Teamwork ties directly in with communication—strong communication will lead to a more productive, efficient, and high-performing team—which will hopefully lead to high-quality care and good outcomes for the patient.
3. Technical Skills:
You must possess the appropriate technical skills to be an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner. This includes knowledge of various illnesses/disorders, including how to diagnose and treat the diseases. You must also know how to interpret lab values and diagnostic tests to ensure appropriate management. Lastly, you must know where to turn for answers if you do not understand (i.e., Peers, professional organizations, Up-to-Date, etc.).
4. Professional Development:
Professional development is crucial for everyone in healthcare—including adult-gerontology acute care NP. Professional development includes goal setting, meeting for the annual or biannual review, attending conferences, and completing other continuing education forms. These are all important because they will help you grow as a healthcare provider and become a better adult-gerontology acute care NP.
5. Time Management:
You manage the care of multiple patients throughout the hospital. Therefore, you must have good time management skills to ensure you can see and care for all of your patients.
Where Do Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners Work?
For those who want to become an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, you will typically work in acute care or inpatient settings—including emergency departments, intensive care units, medical-surgical units, transplant units, or step-down units. As of recently, adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioners can also work in long-term care facilities and even specialty clinics such as endocrinology.
What Is The Typical Work Schedule For An Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP?
The adult-gerontology acute care NP’s work schedule is going to depend completely on where they work. If you are caring for patients in the hospital, not including the ER, you will typically work 3 12-hour shifts a week which will include weekends. If you work in the emergency department, you will also most likely work 3 12-hour shifts including weekends and holidays, but may also have to work late into the evening or night (ie. 1 pm-1 am). Like I said above there is the option in some organizations for the adult-gerontology acute care NP to work in specialty clinics—which would lead to working four or five 8-hour shifts a week and possibly require you to be on-call for a specified number of weekdays and weekends throughout the year.
What Is The Difference Between Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP And Adult-Gerontology acute care Nurse?
There are differences between an adult-gerontology acute care NP and an adult-gerontology acute care nurse. To start, their education is different. To practice as an RN, you must have an undergraduate degree such as an ADN or BSN. To become an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, you must hold a graduate degree such as an MSN or DNP. The board certification exam is also different. To practice as an adult-gerontology acute care RN, you must pass the NCLEX; to practice as an NP, you must pass the appropriate board certification exam based on your degree (i.e., A-GNP exam).
The scope of practice and roles of the adult-gerontology acute care RN and NP are also different. The RN works alongside the NP in delivering care to the adult-gerontological population. They assess, carry out orders from the NP and other specialties, administer medications and re-evaluate the patient to see if the interventions are helping. They communicate with the healthcare team and interprofessional team to ensure all specialties and people involved in the patient's care are on the same page. They also communicate with the patient and their family frequently—explaining diagnoses, treatment plans, medications, and answering any questions they may have. The adult-gerontology NP has a greater scope of practice, and the NP can assess, diagnose, treat and evaluate their patient. This includes prescribing medications, interpreting lab values, and other diagnostic tests to ensure the treatment plan is appropriate for the patient. Just like the RN, they also provide education and answer questions from the patient and family.
Pros Of Becoming An Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
One pro of becoming an adult-gerontology acute care NP is that you get to care for a specific population—the adult population in the acute care setting. Many people do not wish to manage patients in the outpatient setting; therefore, this job allows you to care for acutely ill patients. On the other hand, there are a few opportunities to work in specialty clinics if that interests you. Another pro for many people is the hours—most hospital positions are three 12-hour shifts giving you four days off during the week.
Cons Of Becoming An Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
There are no cons associated with becoming an adult-gerontology acute care NP, but there are some points to consider. First, you can only deliver care to the adult or older adult population. Therefore, if you have any desire to work with kids, this would not be the specialty to pursue. Second, a majority of the jobs are in the acute care/inpatient setting with a few options working for a specialty clinic or long-term care facility. Depending on where you work, you may also be on-call for a few nights or weekends a month—so just another thought to consider.
How Long Does It Take To Become An Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner?
You may now be wondering, how long does it take to become an adult-gerontology acute care NP? And the answer is it will take approximately 6 to 8 years to become an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner.
To apply to graduate school, you must have your BSN, which typically takes four years to complete. To practice as an adult-gerontology NP, you must obtain your MSN or a terminal degree such as your DNP, which can take another 2-4 years—this is dependent on if you attend full-time or part-time and if your program offers courses in the summer.
Lastly, please note that this does not include experience as an RN, and I strongly recommend a minimum of two years of nursing experience before applying to graduate school. The experience, knowledge, and skills you learn as a nurse will be invaluable to you as an adult-gerontology acute care NP.
How Much Does It Cost To Become An Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner?
Multiple variables impact the cost of you becoming an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner. You must first achieve your BSN, which can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $200,000. The cost of your BSN will depend on the school you attend and if you attend full-time or part-time. Your tuition will also be less if you go to a public school in your home state and pay in-state tuition than attending a private school or paying out-of-state tuition for a public school. There is another option to achieve your BSN: to get your associate's degree in nursing (ADN) first and then obtain your BSN—and similar factors will impact the cost of this. Just remember, it does not matter how you achieve your BSN; you need to be a BSN-prepared nurse before applying to graduate school.
After completing your BSN, you must attend and complete graduate—and graduate school, just like the tuition for your BSN, is impacted by multiple factors. These factors include the school you attend and the status you attend. The degree you pursue will also influence the cost—MSN vs. DNP. The average cost for a BSN-to-MSN program is $81,810 to $185,280 and the average cost for a BSN-to-DNP program is $26,490 to $254,260.
Lastly, there are other costs to consider when becoming an adult-gerontological nurse practitioner. First, you will have to pay to take your board certification exam and licensure. Many students also choose to complete a course or purchase questions to prepare for their board certification exam. Once you are a practicing adult-gerontological NP, you will have other costs such as your DEA license, CEUs, and membership to professional organizations. You can pay these out-of-pocket, but many organizations will also give you a specified amount of money to put towards these items each year.
Step-By-Step Process Of Becoming An Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
1. Complete your BSN:
The first step to becoming an adult-gerontology acute care NP is to graduate from a BSN program. This is needed before you can apply to a graduate program.
2. Pass NCLEX:
Once you complete your BSN, you must pass the NCLEX before practice.
3. Obtain RN Licensure:
After passing the NCLEX, you can apply for your RN license. And once you receive it, you can begin your practice as an RN.
4. Gain RN Experience:
This is not required, but I strongly recommend gaining RN experience before applying for graduate school. The skills, knowledge, and experience you gain as a nurse will be invaluable to you as a nurse practitioner.
5. Apply and graduate from an accredited graduate program:
Next, is to apply to an accredited graduate program.
6. Pass board certification exam:
Once you graduate from an accredited nursing program, you must pass the board certification exam specific to your specialty. There is a specific exam that adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioners must pass before practicing, and it is the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Exam
7. Apply for APRN licensure:
It is not uncommon for this process to start before passing the board certification exam, but you cannot get your APRN licensure until you pass the exam and your home state has received the results. Please note that you must maintain good standing with your RN license and your APRN license.
8. Apply for jobs:
You can start applying for adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner jobs before you graduate and pass the board certification exam, but it is also okay to wait until you have obtained licensure.
9. Start Practicing:
Enjoy practicing as an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner.
10. Complete certifications if needed:
Complete any certifications that you need or that would enhance your practice as an adult-gerontological NP.
Top Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs
Fortunately, there are programs designed for those who desire to become adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioners. This is a very positive thing, as the education will best prepare the NP to deliver care to this specific population. Below, I will discuss two programs within the United States, but many other programs are available to those wanting to become adult-gerontology NPs.
Penn Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania:
The University of Pennsylvania
offers an adult-gerontology NP program with consistent ranks among the best programs for the last several years. This program helps you find placement with preceptors and allows you the opportunity to precept along with a variety of specialties, including general surgery, cardiology, and trauma, to help you find your interest. They offer an MSN degree as well as a post-graduate APRN certificate in adult-gerontology acute care.
Iowa College of Nursing at the University of Iowa:
The University of Iowa offers a variety of options for the nurse pursuing a career as an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner. This includes options for those seeking an MSN, DNP, or post-graduate certification. The DNP program
is a hybrid program that typically takes approximately 2-4 years to complete.
Please click here
for more information regarding the best adult-gerontology nurse practitioner programs.
Recommended Certifications To Enhance Your Job Role As An Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP
Certifications are a way to help set you apart from others who work in your specialty. It often demonstrates competency in a specific area such as the emergency department, intensive care unit, or pediatrics. Those who want to become an adult-gerontology acute care NP have the opportunity to gain certifications based on areas they work such as the ICU or populations they serve, such as the older adult population. Below, I provide two examples of certifications for the adult-gerontology acute care NP—these do not include the required board certification you must have to practice or the CPR courses you must complete.
This certification is through the American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC) and is for nurses to demonstrate their competency in delivering care to the older adult population. Once you pass the certification exam, the certification is good for five years.
This certification is through the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Nurses who complete this certification further demonstrate their ability to deliver care to critically and/or acutely ill adult patients. This certification is good for three years—after three years, you either must take and pass the exam again or complete the required continuing education.
Continuing Education Requirements For Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners
To be an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, you must complete continuing education requirements. There are two factors to consider—you must complete CEUs to maintain your RN and NP license and CEUs to keep any certifications you have.
The continuing education requirements for your RN and adult-gerontology acute care NP license are determined by your primary state of residence. Each state requires renewal of your licenses at a minimum of every two years—it may be sooner for some states or licenses (i.e., DEA license). There are often specific CEU requirements for your RN and APRN license, including a specified number of CEUs dedicated to prescription drugs and opioids. Therefore, due to each state being variable in its requirements—please visit your state board of nursing for specific license renewal requirements.
As I stated above, you must also complete CEUs for any certifications you hold. For example, you must renew your BLS, ACLS, and PALS every two years by completing a re-certification course and exam. If you have the CCRN-adult, you must complete a total of 100 Continuing Education Recognition Points (CERPs) or retake and pass the certification exam AND complete a specified number of direct patient care of acutely/critically ill adult patients.
Starting Salary Of An Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
The starting salary of an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner is $83,320 a year. This number is an average and is influenced by factors such as where you live, the environment you work in, and if you work overnight or have to be on-call.
|Per Hour||$40.06 |
Average Salary Of An Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
So, you now might be wondering, what is the average salary of an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner? The average salary of an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner is $144,468 a year. Again, this is an average and can be influenced by multiple factors such as those listed above and years of experience as both an RN and APRN.
|Per Hour||$55.03 |
Job Outlook For Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners
Great news for those who want to become an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, the job outlook is auspicious. The need for nurse practitioners to care for the adult-gerontology population in the acute care setting is only going to continue to grow over the next several years. This is due to the aging population and the ability to treat many acute illnesses successfully. Many hospitals and organizations are also expanding to provide the necessary services to the adult and older adult population--thus leading to a need for more adult-gerontology acute care NPs to meet the needs of these patients.
Useful Organizations & Associations
Those interesting in becoming an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner may want to consider joining a professional organization or association. Professional organizations and associations are a great resource for the Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners —and there are specialty-specific organizations and more general associations like the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). They provide a sense of community, educational resources/professional development, and leadership opportunities. The Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association is one organization specific to the adult-gerontology acute care NP.
GAPNA is a professional organization for nurse practitioners specializing in delivering care to the older adult population. This organization will support you throughout your practice by providing a community of like-minded people, educational opportunities for professional development, and resources to ensure you are delivering the latest evidence-based medicine. Many organization members are in academia, research, and leadership roles.
Finally, Is Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nursing The Right NP Specialty For You?
After reading the information I provided above, I hope you are able to answer the questions: what is an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner? Becoming an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner takes time and motivation but can be unbelievably fulfilling—plus is specialized allowing you to care for the adult and older adult population in the acute care setting. Adult-gerontology NPs is an incredibly rewarding and in-demand specialty that is only expected to grow over the next several years.
Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Kasee Wiesen is a practicing family nurse practitioner. Her nursing background includes emergency medicine, pediatrics and peri-op. Education is a passion of Kasee’s, and she has taught BSN, RN-BSN and DNP students, and has enjoyed every moment of it!