Role of Geriatric Nurse Practitioner (GNP)

Today, hospitals, health clinics and home care facilities all have an urgent need for highly trained gerontological nurse practitioners. The need for nurses will grow more than 20% in the next coming decade and the majority of nurses are needed in those exact facilities. As the baby boomers begin to slow down and develop age-related illnesses, they are joining millions of elderly Americans who require specialist around the clock health care over the next 30 years.

Gerontological nurse practitioners (GNPs) take care of the physical changes that people go through as they get older as well as the social and psychological problems that come with growing old. For example, more than 800,000 people have strokes in the United States every year. More than 60% survive, but are then in need of rehabilitation and often 24/7 care.

This is just one of the special roles required of geriatric nurse practitioners. If you are interested in a career in this specialized nursing profession, the first thing you need to do is to attend a nursing school, pass your NCLEX exam and become a registered nurse (RN). You then need a few years of practical nursing experience before you can recommence your studies for the more advanced gerontological nurse practitioner role.

Becoming a  gerontological nurse practitioner is challenging because you need to focus of the special healthcare issues that geriatric patients present.

Today, many universities and colleges help prepare students to become gerontological nurse practitioners and obtain the extensive clinical experience needed for their role in geriatric primary care. You can see full list of geriatric nursing programs here.

Students are encouraged to work with physicians and other nurse practitioners so they can have access to wide range of geriatric clinical practice settings and agencies. You can also choose to specialize in specific types of gerontological nursing such as looking after elderly patients with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. Degrees for geriatric nurse practitioners help you gain the skills and knowledge to manage the primary care of geriatric patients.

The skills you learn enable GNPs to take care of the elderly by conducting physical examinations and assessing, diagnosing and treating common age-related health problems. You will work close with your patients to develop and implement individual treatment programs according to their medical histories.

Gerontological nurse practitioners are responsible for monitoring chronic health problems such as dementia, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis and debilitating illnesses like Alzheimer’s Disease. A major responsibility of geriatric nurse practitioners is prescribing medications and collaborating closely with physicians and all other health care professionals to provide continuity of healthcare.

But the role of GNPs is not solely confined to physical health care. You are also an educator, responsible for providing incentives, direction and educational material to help the patients learn about their own particular illnesses and how to best take care of themselves.

Geriatric nurse practitioners take into consideration the special learning needs of each client and often implement self-paced learning modules using visual aids and audio-visual methods. The role of healthcare education for the elderly also extends to their families and GNPs are regularly called upon to inform and educate the patient’s family, community and colleagues about their particular requirements to help improve their quality of life.

Gerontological nurse practitioners can be found practicing in all of the 50 United States from heavily populated major cities and towns to small rural communities where their services are both valued and desperately needed. You will find employment in everything from geriatric clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices, community health centers, public health departments and schools of nursing.

Geriatric nurse practitioners are important advocates for overseeing the appropriate utilization of healthcare resources geared to the needs of elderly people. They also provide essential educational services to older clients, their families and other nursing and medical professionals involved in their care.

Today, many GNPs are innovators in the field of geriatric nursing and age-related healthcare and initiate or collaborate in research aimed at improving the lives and long-term care of their patients. Gerontological nurse practitioners are fulfilling an important role in our aging societies.

Hundreds of millions of Americans are now in the seniors age bracket of 50 years+ and over the next three decades this is going to place a tremendous strain on healthcare in the United States. Geriatric nurse practitioners are on the front-line of geriatric healthcare and most of these nurses are needed to provide the specialized care for our rapidly aging society.

If you are looking for a care in nursing that is becoming highly sought-after with each passing year, training to become one of today’s desperately needed gerontological nurse practitioners could be just the role you have in mind.