DNP Career Spotlight: Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
In a recent Healthcare Insider blog we addressed the large population of aging adults in the state of Pennsylvania and across the country — projected to grow by 83.7 million by the year 2050 — and their great need for dedicated primary care doctors of nursing practice.
In this blog we’ll highlight what exactly it looks like to hold a career as a gerontological nurse practitioner, working primarily with the geriatric population and their direct needs such as chronic illnesses, arthritis, dementia, and other long-term conditions.
If you pursue a career as a gerontological nurse practitioner, you may find yourself working in nursing homes, patient’s homes, senior citizen centers, hospice facilities or even running your own private practice.
A few things to consider when working with older populations:
- Unlike what you may experience with pediatric, youth or younger adult populations, when working with the elderly population you will often times experience patients that have more than one chronic illness or ailment at a time.
- Your focus may not necessarily be on treating a patient and helping them work towards restored health, but rather, especially if working in a hospice setting with patients who have received a terminal diagnosis, you may be focusing on pain management and monitoring a patient’s health to ensure they are as comfortable as they can be throughout their final stages of life.
- Due to the simple nature of aging and managing certain deficiencies or illnesses, geriatric patients are typically prescribed several different medications to be taken simultaneously. As we discussed in another Healthcare Insider blog, there are potential dangers that come with some prescription drug interactions, and as a DNP you will have to be aware of these risks and help patients properly manage the right medications.
Aside from the physical aspects of the job, emotionally this position is best suited for someone who is attentive, patient, compassionate, supportive, and good at listening.
As mentioned, because of the growing population of elderly, The American Geriatrics Society estimates that by the year 2030 we will need 30,000 geriatric health care professionals — a positive job outlook for those interested in this field.
At Alvernia, DNP students are given the choice between two Primary Care Nurse Practitioner tracks, Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (A-GNP) being one of them.
Through this track, DNP students will take classes in Adult Healthcare Issues, Older Adult Healthcare Issues, Advanced Clinical Pharmacology, Health Promotion and more to gain foundational knowledge of how to properly treat, care for, and promote the health of adult and geriatric patients across Berks County, Pennsylvania and beyond.