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How do I Become a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner?

Geriatric nurse practitioners provide health care services to elderly patients. For example, nurse practitioners' work might involve checking vital signs, health assessment, family education, helping to manage patient illnesses, and health promotion. Of note, there are various specializations that nurse practitioners can pursue, such as pediatric nursing, family nursing, or geriatric nursing work. Geriatric nurse practitioners work in settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, home health, community care, or outpatient centers. If being a geriatric practitioner is your career goal, you will generally need to get a college degree and a post-graduate degree.

The college undergraduate degree that you begin with could be either the associate's degree or a bachelor's degree if you hope to eventually become a geriatric nurse practitioner. If you get an associate's degree, keep in mind that you will have to get a bachelor's degree after that. Both associate's and bachelor's degree programs in nursing include coursework such as health assessment, community health, pediatric nursing, and mental health.

During the final year of the undergraduate nursing degree, you will prepare to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to meet requirements to become a licensed nurse where you intend to practice nursing. Some states may have other requirements in addition to the education requirements and the NCLEX requirement. Thus, it is prudent to always check with the local licensing agency to make sure you are aware of all requirements.

Also, during the latter part of the final year of college, you will likely seek your first nursing job. The career services department at your college will likely be able to help you identify a nursing job you can apply for. Also, there are a number of nursing job websites that list nursing jobs. In addition, joining a professional organization for nurses such as the American Nurses Association (ANA) can be helpful because there are typically job listings at that website.

After acquiring at least two years of nursing experience, it will be time to apply to a nursing graduate program. Graduate nursing programs vary in the types of specializations they offer. Thus, if you hope to become a geriatric nurse practitioner, you will seek and complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program that offers the geriatric nurse practitioner specialization.

Upon completion of the MSN program with geriatric nurse practitioner specialization, you will be required to pass the nurse practitioner certification exam. This exam is given via the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and includes topics such as diabetes management, school nursing, pediatrics, family care, and mental health. Also, if you want to become a geriatric nurse practitioner, you will have to take a specialty exam that focuses on geriatrics. Then, if you successfully complete that exam, you will become a geriatric nurse practitioner.

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