As the aging population of Baby Boomers continues to grow and life spans grow longer, the choice to specialize a nursing degree in gerontology becomes a smart one. While most people who have what it takes to provide care to individuals recognize that there is a nursing supply shortage, the key to having a successful and high-paying career in the field is to choose a specialty area that is projected to be in demand for the remainder of your professional life.
One specialty area that can be both rewarding and secure is gerontology nursing, where nurses help elderly patients in a variety of skilled care and healthcare facilities. Read on and find out how you can customization your education so that you can land a role as a specialist or a nurse practitioner in gerontology.
Earn Your Bachelor of Science Nursing Degree
The very first step is to obtain an undergraduate degree in nursing so that you meet the qualifications to become a Registered Nurse. While many prospective RN’s will choose to take a shorter path by studying for a two-year nursing degree, when you want to become a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, or GNP, the most direct path will be to earn your BSN. This will empower you to advance your education as soon as you are licensed and you are ready for your Master’s.
Earn Your State License and Get Experience in a Clinical Setting
Once you pass the accredited nursing program, you will be eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination otherwise known as the NCLEX-RN. This uniform licensing exam is a must for anyone who later wants to become a nursing specialist. After you pass the exam, you will need to start getting hands-on clinical experience, preferably in a setting where you can work with geriatric patients closely. This will help you decide if you really want to specialize a degree in gerontology or if you would like to choose a different demographic to work with.
Specializing Your Master’s Degree
Before you will be eligible for certification as a nurse practitioner in gerontology, you need to study for a master’s degree. A two-year Master’s in Nursing is a much more specialized formal degree where you can choose focused areas. Since there is a growing demand for gerontological nursing professionals, there are more and more gerontology nurse practitioner programs that place an in-depth emphasis on all of the clinical skills you would need to diagnose and treat issues the older population falls ill to. If you do not find a specific program for GNP’s, you can customize your degree by taking courses in chronic illness management, acute illness, geriatrics and healthcare concerns.
Get Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center
The American Nurses Credentialing Center, also known as the ANCC, offers certifications in many areas of clinical nursing and administration. The next step will be to get board certified through the ANCC by meeting the experience and degree requirements and passing the exam. Once you pass the certification exam, you will officially be a Certified Gerontological Nurse Practitioner.
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The average salary range reported in this specialty area is between $63,000 and $85,000, according to Discover Nursing. You can either work in nursing homes, geriatric units or even in patient’s homes. If you want to earn a good living and enjoy positive job outlook while you work with the elderly, it is time to specialize a nursing degree in gerontology.