Nursing is a dynamic and challenging profession that offers many career growth opportunities. One such opportunity is becoming a nurse practitioner (NP), a highly respected and sought-after position within the healthcare industry.
NPs are advanced practice registered nurses providing comprehensive and specialized care to patients across the lifespan. If you’re a registered nurse (RN) looking to take your career to the next level, becoming an NP in adult and geriatric care could be the perfect path for you.
This article provides six essential tips to help you navigate the process of advancing your career and becoming a Nurse Practitioner in adult and geriatric care.
1. Get the Desired Education
To become a Nurse Practitioner in adult and geriatric care, you need the right education and training. Therefore, one of the first steps is to research the educational requirements for NPs in your state.
You’ll need a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, an RN license, and a Master of Science in Nursing. You can also pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice program focusing on adult and geriatric care.
Various NP programs are available, and choosing the one that aligns with your career goals is essential. For example, suppose you’re interested in adult and geriatric care. In that case, you should consider AGACNP programs, which provide in-depth knowledge and skills for managing the complex healthcare needs of older adults.
AGACNP programs prepare NPs to care for patients with acute, chronic, and critical illnesses in acute care, long-term care, and outpatient settings. According to the AANP, around 6.1% of NPs pursue AGACNP. First, however, it’s essential to consider the program’s accreditation, faculty, curriculum, and clinical experiences.
2. Gain Clinical Experience
Clinical experience provides opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to real-life patient care situations. It also allows NPs to develop critical thinking, decision-making, and communication skills necessary to provide patients with quality care.
As an aspiring AGACNP, you should seek clinical experiences that align with your career goals. For example, consider working in acute care, long-term care, or outpatient settings that serve older adults with complex healthcare needs. You can also seek opportunities to work with interprofessional teams, such as physicians, social workers, and pharmacists, to better understand the collaborative care process.
Clinical experiences can be obtained through internships, preceptorships, or part-time work while pursuing your NP degree. Some AGACNP programs also require a certain number of clinical hours for graduation.
3. Obtain Certification
Certification validates your knowledge, skills, and competency in the field and demonstrates your commitment to providing quality patient care. Obtaining certification is vital to becoming a licensed Nurse Practitioner in adult and geriatric care.
To obtain certification as an AGACNP, you must pass a national certification exam from an accredited organization, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). The certification exam tests your knowledge in assessing, diagnosing, and managing acute and chronic conditions in older adults.
Certification also requires meeting specific educational and clinical practice requirements, such as completing an accredited AGACNP program and a certain number of clinical hours. The certification is valid for five years, as per ANA Enterprise. However, the credentials can be used continuously to meet the renewal requirements on time.
4. Network with Other NPs
By networking, you can connect with other professionals in the field, gain insights into the latest trends and best practices, and discover new career opportunities.
There are several ways to network with other NPs, including joining professional organizations such as the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA) and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF). These organizations offer opportunities to attend conferences, participate in workshops, and connect with other professionals in the field.
You can also network by attending local meetings or events, joining online discussion groups or social media platforms, and participating in mentorship programs. Networking can provide valuable support and guidance as you navigate your career path as a Nurse Practitioner in adult and geriatric care.
5. Participate in Community Service and Volunteer Work
Volunteering provides opportunities to gain experience working with diverse populations and develop essential communication and teamwork skills. Participating in community service and volunteer work is a valuable way to give back to your community while advancing your career as a Nurse Practitioner in adult and geriatric care.
Volunteer work can also help you build a positive reputation in your community, leading to new career opportunities and referrals. Consider volunteering at local clinics, senior centers, or community events that serve older adults. You can also participate in health fairs, educational programs, and outreach initiatives that promote healthy aging and wellness.
6. Apply for a Job or Internship as an NP
Applying for a job or internship as an NP is a critical step toward advancing your adult and geriatric care career. It allows you to professionally apply your knowledge and skills, gain new experiences, and expand your network.
When applying for a job or internship, tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific position and organization you are applying for. Highlight your education, clinical experience, and any certifications or specialized training that make you a strong candidate.
Consider applying for positions in acute care, long-term care, or outpatient settings that serve older adults with complex healthcare needs. You can also seek opportunities to work with interprofessional teams, such as physicians, social workers, and pharmacists, to better understand the collaborative care process.
Becoming an AGACNP Needs Perseverance and Dedication
Becoming a nurse practitioner in adult and geriatric care is a rewarding and fulfilling career path for RNs seeking to advance their careers.
Glassdoor estimates that Adult Geriatric Nurse Practitioners in the United States earn a total pay of $135,635 per year, with a median annual salary of $125,606. The additional pay is estimated to be $10,029 per year, which may include cash bonuses, commissions, tips, and profit sharing.
By following the six tips outlined in this article, RNs can achieve their goals of becoming AGACNPs and providing quality care to older adults.
By committing to ongoing learning, professional development, and patient-centered care, RNs can make a meaningful impact on the lives of older adults while achieving personal and professional fulfillment in their careers. The path to becoming an AGACNP may be challenging, but with perseverance and dedication, RNs can achieve their career goals and positively impact healthcare.