How to Become an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner? (Answered by an NP)
Written By: Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Adult-gerontology primary care is one of many specialties for aspiring NP. The job demand is high due to the aging population and predicted shortage, the salary is competitive, and the variety of patients seen throughout the day keeps the day interesting. Plus, if you have no desire to work with infants and school-age kids, this specialty may be just for you.
Are you now curious about how to become an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner? Below you will find the steps to become an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, the pros and cons, and information about the average salary.
What Does An Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Do?
What exactly does an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner do? Below you will find a few of the many duties of an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner.
1. Knowledge of preventative care:
Adult-gerontology primary care NPs must know about preventive care and screenings. This is a crucial part of primary care and includes vaccinations, mammograms, lung cancer screenings, etc.
2. Head-to-toe assessments:
The adult-gerontology primary care NPs perform assessments on their patients daily. This may include a full head-to-toe or more symptom-specific assessments such as abdominal or head and neck assessments.
3. Interpretation of diagnostic tests to come to a diagnosis:
After completing the assessment, the adult-gerontology primary care NP may need diagnostic tests to support a diagnosis further. This includes imaging and laboratory. The adult-gerontology NP will have to take the results from these tests to formulate a diagnosis or determine if additional testing needs to be completed.
4. Develop treatment plans:
After the adult-gerontology primary care NP forms their diagnosis based on their assessment and interpretation of diagnostic tests, they must develop a treatment plan. This includes medications, physical therapy, referral to a specialist, repeat lab work, or titration of a medicine.
5. Collaboration with other healthcare specialties:
The adult-gerontology primary care NP must work with other specialties to ensure their patients receive the best care possible. This includes cardiology, pulmonology, nephrology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc. It also includes nutritional services, care management, social work, and pharmacy.
What Skills And Abilities Are Needed To Work As An Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP?
There are many skills needed to work as an adult-gerontology primary care NP. Below you will find a list of a few of these skills needed by the NP.
1. Sound Communication:
Strong communication skills are needed to work as an adult-gerontology primary care NP. First and foremost, communication must be strong with the patient, building trust, confidence, and a stronger patient-provider relationship. You must also have strong communication skills with the nurses, other healthcare specialties, families, and caregivers to ensure the patient receives the best care possible.
Teamwork ties directly in with good communication. The adult-gerontology NP must work well with the healthcare team. This includes everyone involved in the care, from the receptionist to nurses, pharmacy, and other specialties. Great teamwork will help minimize errors and lead to better overall care.
3. Knowledge of chronic illnesses:
The adult-gerontology primary care NP must have a strong understanding of chronic illnesses. This will be a significant component of their job. The NP will manage their patient's hypertension, type II diabetes, hyperlipidemia, migraines, etc. The management of these illnesses may also vary based on the patient's age or other comorbidities.
4. Knowledge of acute illnesses:
Adult-gerontology primary care NPs not only manage chronic diseases but also acute ones. They will manage urinary tract infections, sinus infections, ankle sprains, abdominal pain, and many others. The adult-gerontology NP must have a strong knowledge of managing acute illnesses to ensure the patient is appropriately treated.
5. Knowledge of medications:
The adult-gerontology primary care NP must have strong knowledge of medications. This includes appropriate medications to treat the diagnosis, their side effects, and the compatibility of the medication with other medicines (or knowing where to look to find this information). This is all important because many of the patients will already be prescribed other medications, so they need to be able to educate on new medications and ensure their compatibility with the patient's other medications.
6. Professional Development:
The adult-gerontology primary care NP must have the desire for professional development. This includes goal setting as an individual and with their manager. It also includes attending conferences, CEUs, and other learning opportunities to stay current with the ever-changing world of healthcare. Professional development also ensures that evidence-based medicine is being used daily.
Where Do Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioners Work?
An adult-gerontology primary care NP can work in various settings to deliver primary care to the adult-gerontology population. This includes nursing homes, clinics, and they may even go to patients’ homes to provide care. They may also work in rehabilitation facilities and hospitals.
What Is The Typical Work Schedule For An Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP?
Becoming an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner may offer more consistency in your work schedule—but the setting ultimately determines it. They typically work daytime hours—from 8 am, or 9 am to 5 pm. Based on where they work, they may also have to work an occasional Saturday morning or the entire weekend. They may also be part of a rotating schedule to cover holidays, and there is the possibility of having to be on-call.
What Is The Difference Between Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP And Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse?
The differences between practicing as an adult-gerontology primary care NP and an adult-gerontology RN are primarily based on the differences within their scope of practice.
First, the education requirements between the NP and the RN are significant. Most adult-gerontology primary care RNs practicing now have achieved their BSN degree, which typically takes four years. The adult-gerontology primary care NP must graduate from an accredited graduate program which can include either an MSN or DNP program.
The board certification process is also different. The adult-gerontology primary care RN must pass the NCLEX exam before obtaining licensure and practicing as an RN. To practice as an adult-gerontology primary care NP, you must graduate from an adult-gerontology primary care NP graduate program and pass the adult-gerontology primary care board certification exam.
Lastly, the scope of practice defines the differences between the adult-gerontology primary care RN and NP. The adult-gerontology primary care RN can assess the patient, administer medications and evaluate the patient to determine the effectiveness of an intervention. The RN will also communicate with the interdisciplinary team to ensure that all healthcare providers are aware of changes to the treatment plan and the patient's status.
The adult-gerontology primary care NP works closely with the nurse but can assess, order, and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe medications and treatment plans, and evaluate the patient’s response. They, too, will work closely with other physicians, nurses, and the healthcare team to ensure their patients receive the highest quality of care.
Top 5 Pros Of Becoming An Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
There are many pros to being an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. Below you will find a list of five of these pros.
1. Good hours:
The adult-gerontology primary care NP typically works daytime hours with the possibility of occasional weekend or holiday coverage. This allows for flexibility and an excellent home-life balance for many NPs.
2. Population Specific:
Adult-gerontology primary care NPs care for a specific population—the adult and older adults. This is a pro for many practitioners as they do not wish to care for the pediatric population.
3. Competitive Salary:
The salary of an adult-gerontology primary care NP is very competitive. While the starting salary is just under $75,000—the number is based on multiple factors leading to an average wage of just over $110,000 a year.
4. Strong job outlook:
The job outlook for the adult-gerontology primary care NP is excellent. This is due to the predicted physician shortage in acute and primary care, the aging population, and the increased demand for nurse practitioners. This trio of needs creates a very strong job outlook for the NP.
5. High job satisfaction:
The job satisfaction for an adult-gerontology primary care NP is high—which is most likely due to the strong job outlook and competitive salary.
Top 5 Cons Of Becoming An Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
Like any job, there are cons to being an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. Below you will find a list of five of these cons.
1. Specific population:
Becoming an adult-gerontology primary care NP means you will work with patients typically 13 years old and older. In other words, you will not work with infants or school-aged kids. For many people pursuing this is considered a pro, but others feel this is a con.
2. May have to weekends/holidays:
Depending on where you work, there is the chance that you may have to work entire weekends or even just a part of a weekend. You may also have to work holidays, whether for a couple of hours in the office on the holiday or being on-call.
Practicing as an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner can be very challenging. This is often due to the patients having multiple co-morbidities require management by you. You must consider how one treatment plan may impact another body system and often coordinate care without specialties. Other times, your treatment plan needs to change due to the patient’s status worsening or not responding to your initial plan. This can lead to challenges when caring for a patient in adult-gerontology primary care.
4. May have to be on-call:
There is the chance of being on-call when you become an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. This is not a guarantee for every job but a point to consider when applying for jobs.
5. Emotional Stress:
Being an adult-gerontology primary care NP can be stressful. You are managing the care of patients from one problem to too many issues, which can be stressful. Working in primary care, you also have a greater chance of developing a strong patient-provider relationship which may make it more difficult when you lose a patient.
How Long Does It Take To Become An Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner?
On average, it takes 6-8 years of school to become an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner.
Before applying to graduate school, you must have your bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. A traditional BSN program takes four years to complete but may take longer if attended part-time. You may also complete an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) and then apply to an RN-BSN program to achieve your BSN.
Once you have your BSN, you must attend either a master's of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program. On average, an MSN degree takes 2-3 years, and a DNP takes 3-4 years to complete. You may also choose to complete your MSN degree first and, at a later time, return to school for your DNP.
Another point to consider is adding in years of experience as a nurse before applying to graduate school. I recommend a minimum of 1-2 years of RN experience before applying to graduate school. The knowledge, experience, and connections made as a nurse will positively impact your career as an NP.
How Much Does It Cost To Become An Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner?
The cost of becoming an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner is influenced by multiple factors, including the school(s) chosen, the path for your BSN degree, and if you complete your MSN or DNP.
The average cost of getting your BSN is $40,000 to more than $200,000—which is quite a significant range. The cost of getting your BSN is influenced by the school attended—for example, a private institution will be more expensive than paying in-state tuition for a public institution; however, paying out-of-state tuition for a public university may be comparable to a private institution. Attending school part-time vs. full-time may also impact the cost. There is also an option of completing your ADN first and then completing an RN-BSN program, which may also influence the cost.
Once you have your BSN, you must complete an MSN or DNP program before practicing as an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. The average cost of an MSN program is $81,810 to $185,280, and the average cost of a DNP program is $26,490 to $254,260. The same factors that influence the cost of your BSN degree will also influence the cost of graduate school. You may also choose to complete your MSN first and then complete your DNP at a later time.
Lastly, consider other costs, such as the fee to sit for the board certification exam, any board prep materials, or any licenses you may need before practicing as an adult-gerontology primary care NP.
What Is The Step-By-Step Process Of Becoming An Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner?
How do you become an adult-gerontology primary care NP? Below is the step-by-step process of becoming an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner.
1. Graduate from an accredited BSN program:
To become an adult-gerontology primary care NP, you must complete your BSN from an accredited program. Please remember that your path to getting this degree does not matter.
2. Pass NCLEX and obtain an RN license:
After graduating from your BSN program, you must pass the NCLEX exam and obtain RN licensure in the state where you will work.
3. Gain experience as an RN:
This step is optional—but I strongly recommend getting 1-2 years of RN experience before applying to graduate school. The knowledge and networking gained as an RN will be invaluable to your NP career.
4. Apply to adult-gerontology primary care NP programs:
Be sure the programs you apply to are accredited. Also, be aware of any prerequisites the program may have as well.
5. Attend and graduate from an accredited adult-gerontology primary care NP program
6. Pass the state board exam and obtain an APRN license:
After you graduate from your adult-gerontology NP program, you must pass the state board exam and get your APRN license before practicing.
7. Apply to adult-gerontology nurse practitioner jobs:
Be mindful that this step can occur before graduating from your NP program.
8. Start Working as an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner:
Enjoy your new career as an adult-gerontology NP.
9. Complete DNP (optional):
If you have not done so already and desire to complete a terminal degree, you may return to school at any time in your career and achieve your DNP. This step is highly encouraged and may be required if you want to teach nursing students.
Top Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Programs
There are numerous adult-gerontology primary care NP programs throughout the United States. Below, I will discuss two of those programs—and for a more comprehensive list, click here
The University of Pennsylvania offers an adult-gerontology primary care NP MSN degree that you can complete in one to three years. The program includes at least five courses, including theory and clinical components, to prepare students to best care for the adult-gerontological population.
The University of Iowa offers a BSN-DNP and a post-graduate certification for aspiring adult-gerontology primary care NPs. The University offers a 3-year and 4-year option to complete the BSN-DNP program, and the courses are hybrid, with the students scheduled to be on campus only once a week. The classes are based on theory/didactic and clinical experiences to build a solid knowledge foundation to practice as an adult-gerontology NP.
Recommended Certifications To Enhance Your Job Role As An Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP
Certifications are a way to distinguish yourself from others by demonstrating your passion and competency in caring for a specific population. When discussing certification to enhance your job role as an adult-gerontology primary care NP, there are no specific certifications geared towards that specialty. However, you must be certified to deliver care as an NP—and two certifications meet this requirement. Below, I discuss these two certifications—and be mindful that it is only required to complete one of these to become an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner.
The A-GNP is a certification to demonstrate entry-level knowledge for an adult-gerontology primary care NP. This exam is administered through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and is 150 questions. Multiple prep courses and resources are available to prepare for this certification exam.
The AGPCNP-BC is a certification to demonstrate entry-level knowledge from the adult-gerontology primary care NP. This exam is through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Just like for the A-GNP certification, multiple prep courses and resources are available to prepare for this exam.
The Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association
offers an APRN specialty certification in gerontology, but it is not specific to primary care. However, this certification may enhance your qualifications in your job or make you more marketable when applying for a new job.
Continuing Education Requirements For Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioners
You must complete continuing education units (CEUs) to continue to practice as an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. In most, if not all, states, the NP must complete CEUs to maintain both their RN and APRN licenses.
The state where you work will determine the RN and APRN CEUs requirements to maintain good standing with each license—because you will need to keep your RN and APRN license to practice as an adult-gerontology primary care NP. In most states, you will need to renew your RN license every two years and your APRN license every five years. There may be specifics regarding CEU requirements, such as a specified number of pharmacological hours, opioid prescribing hours, etc. Therefore, visit your state board of nursing to ensure you meet the appropriate CEU requirements for your RN and APRN license.
Lastly, there are often CEU requirements for any certifications you have. For example, the Gerontological Specialist Certification requires 1000 hours of gerontological practice and 80 CEUs, with fifty of those hours being gerontological health-specific topics during the five-year certification period. Visit the website for any certifications held to view the specifics of the CEUs.
What Is The Starting Salary Of An Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner?
The starting adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner salary is $74,420 a year. Living in a rural or urban community, the organization's size, or if you work for a large organization vs. private practice will also impact your starting salary. Lastly, working part-time vs. full-time and years of experience as a nurse will also affect your starting salary.
| Per Hour||$35.78 |
| Per Month||$6,200 |
| Per Year||$74,420 |
What Is The Average Salary Of An Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner?
What is the average salary of an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner? The average adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner salary is $110,536 a year. Like starting salary for an adult-gerontology NP, this number is influenced by other factors, including where you live, your organization worked, and years of experience as both an NP and an RN.
| Per Hour||$53.14 |
| Per Month||$9,210 |
| Per Year||$110,536 |
What Is The Average Salary Of An Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner In Your State?
Now that we have discussed the average salary of an adult-gerontology primary care NP, you may wonder what the average salary is in the state you practice. Below, you will find a list of the 50 states with the average salary for an adult-gerontology NP.
| State || Average Salary |
| Hourly || Monthly || Annual |
| Alabama || $46.11 || $7,990 || $95,900 |
| Alaska || $51.24 || $8,880 || $106,580 |
| Arizona || $53.99 || $9,360 || $112,290 |
| Arkansas || $48.21 || $8,360 || $100,270 |
| California || $68.36 || $11,850 || $142,180 |
| Colorado || $50.68 || $8,790 || $105,420 |
| Connecticut || $54.23 || $9,400 || $112,790 |
| Delaware || $52.33 || $9,070 || $108,840 |
| Florida || $47.20 || $8,180 || $98,170 |
| Georgia || $49.33 || $8,550 || $102,600 |
| Hawaii || $57.40 || $9,950 || $119,390 |
| Idaho || $47.40 || $8,220 || $98,600 |
| Illinois || $54.24 || $9,400 || $112,810 |
| Indiana || $51.10 || $8,860 || $106,280 |
| Iowa || $54.64 || $9,470 || $113,650 |
| Kansas || $48.94 || $8,480 || $101,800 |
| Kentucky || $47.76 || $8,280 || $99,340 |
| Louisiana || $50.72 || $8,790 || $105,490 |
| Maine || $52.39 || $9,080 || $108,970 |
| Maryland || $52.09 || $9,030 || $108,340 |
| Massachusetts || $58.32 || $10,110 || $121,300 |
| Michigan || $48.97 || $8,490 || $101,860 |
| Minnesota || $57.18 || $9,910 || $118,940 |
| Mississippi || $50.31 || $8,720 || $104,650 |
| Missouri || $46.59 || $8,080 || $96,910 |
| Montana || $52.09 || $9,030 || $108,350 |
| Nebraska || $50.73 || $8,790 || $105,510 |
| Nevada || $55.68 || $9,650 || $115,820 |
| New Hampshire || $54.35 || $9,420 || $113,050 |
| New Jersey || $61.68 || $10,690 || $128,300 |
| New Mexico || $53.34 || $9,250 || $110,950 |
| New York || $60.30 || $10,450 || $125,430 |
| North Carolina || $50.75 || $8,800 || $105,560 |
| North Dakota || $50.75 || $8,800 || $105,550 |
| Ohio || $50.64 || $8,780 || $105,340 |
| Oklahoma || $52.51 || $9,100 || $109,230 |
| Oregon || $57.71 || $10,000 || $120,040 |
| Pennsylvania || $52.79 || $9,150 || $109,810 |
| Rhode Island || $57.07 || $9,890 || $118,700 |
| South Carolina || $46.30 || $8,030 || $96,310 |
| South Dakota || $50.57 || $8,770 || $105,180 |
| Tennessee || $42.82 || $7,420 || $89,070 |
| Texas || $53.08 || $9,200 || $110,400 |
| Utah || $50.84 || $8,810 || $105,740 |
| Vermont || $50.67 || $8,780 || $105,390 |
| Virginia || $50.57 || $8,770 || $105,180 |
| Washington || $58.90 || $10,210 || $122,520 |
| West Virginia || $47.16 || $8,170 || $98,090 |
| Wisconsin || $52.67 || $9,130 || $109,550 |
| Wyoming || $51.56 || $8,940 || $107,250 |
Job Outlook For Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioners
The strong demand for adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioners is—due to multiple factors, including the aging population, physician shortage in primary care, and the growth of nurse practitioners.
The population is living longer. An article published in 2020
states that between 2017 and 2060, the average life expectancy will increase from 79.7 years to 85.6 years—indicating a clear need for people to care for this growing population.
Unfortunately, at the same time, the population is living longer, and the Association of American Medical Colleges
predicts a shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians in primary and acute care. So, who will help care for and meet the needs of the adult and older adult populations? Advanced care providers, including nurse practitioners, is who! There is an apparent demand for adult-gerontology primary care NPs. Fortunately, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics
predicts a 45% job growth between 2020 and 2030 for APRNs, including nurse practitioners, which will help meet the needs of this population.
Useful Organizations And Associations
Joining an organization and association geared towards the adult and older adult population is an excellent resource for the adult-gerontological primary care NP. Organizations offer opportunities for networking, education, leadership, and research. Below, I discuss two useful associations for the adult-gerontological primary care NP.
The AANP is an organization for all nurse practitioners, regardless of their specialty. They offer conferences, educational and networking opportunities, CEUs, and numerous other resources available to the NP. It will provide specialty-specific information, educational resources, etc., making it a great resource for the adult-gerontology primary care NP.
The GAPNA is a professional organization for nurse practitioners and other advanced practice nurses caring for older adults. This organization is not specific to primary care but is also for those caring for patients in the acute care, long-term care, and home care setting. They offer conferences, educational and networking opportunities, advocacy, leadership, and research opportunities.
Finally, Is Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nursing The Right NP Specialty For You?
Can you now answer how to become an adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner? Above I have provided complete information regarding the steps to becoming an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, the pros and cons, and the average salary. The need for excellent adult-gerontology primary care NPs is high and can lead to a rewarding career.
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!