Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner: What Is an AGNP, Salary, and How to Become One

AGNPs promote health and wellness in patients from early adulthood to the end of life. Articles Careers

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The need for healthcare professionals trained to care for the complex needs of older adults is skyrocketing.

The Population Reference Bureau reports that the number of Americans over 65 is expected to nearly double from 2018 to 2060. This change means that 95 million seniors will need medical care from providers trained in caring for people across the spectrum of adulthood.

Nursing professionals interested in taking their education and career to the next level for the needs of an aging population might want to consider becoming an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner (AGNP). These advanced practice nurses treat acute and chronic illnesses of people over 18 and into their older years. Because the U.S. population is aging, this nursing career path is in demand and growing. 

What Is an AGNP?

AGNPs promote health and wellness in patients from early adulthood to the end of life. They focus on helping their patients live and age with quality and dignity. 

AGNPs can specialize even further by practicing in acute or primary care settings. Each specialty provides care in different settings and focuses on a specific area of the patient care continuum. 

Adult-Gerontological Primary Care Nurse Practitioners

Adult-gerontological primary care nurse practitioners (AGPCNPs), also known as family nurse practitioners (FNPS), care for patients with a focus on day-to-day healthcare, including managing chronic illnesses and promoting overall wellness.

AGPCNPs diagnose conditions, develop treatment and management plans, and provide health promotion, disease prevention, and disease management education for patients and their caregivers. They typically work in primary care settings, including:

  • Outpatient clinics 
  • Community health centers
  • Private practices

The scope of practice for an AGPCNP varies by state, with some states allowing AGPCNPs to practice autonomously while others require supervision by a licensed physician. In some states, AGPCNPs hold prescriptive authority.

They are a crucial part of the healthcare delivery system. Research has found that AGPCNPs provide high-quality, cost-effective care, especially in rural areas where access to primary care providers may otherwise be limited.

Related:  10 Best BSN to MSN Programs in 2023 

Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioners

Adult-gerontological acute care nurse practitioners (AGACNPs) focus on providing short-term care for adult and geriatric patients with severe health conditions or injuries.

AGACNPs thoroughly understand the aging process and how it affects medical care. They usually work in tertiary and inpatient environments, such as hospitals and critical care units. AGACNPs may also work in long-term care facilities to provide acute care to residents.

AGACNPs monitor and diagnose acute illness and injury and develop treatment plans appropriate to the patient's age and condition. These professionals have a unique understanding of the aging process and the effects of age on health and well-being, which informs their clinical practice.

An advantage to becoming an AGACNP is that these practitioners have greater autonomy and responsibility and can independently meet with patients and assess them. AGNPs also treat patients from different age groups and work in various settings, allowing for multiple career opportunities and experiences.

AGNP Responsibilities

The responsibilities of an AGNP will differ based on the acute and primary care settings.

AGACNP (Acute Care) Responsibilities

  • Examining, diagnosing, and monitoring acutely ill patients
  • Developing treatment plans and appropriate interventions while overseeing and evaluating their implementation
  • Coordinating healthcare services for acutely ill patients in critical care
  • Facilitating transfers between different care environments and levels of care
  • Serving as an advocate for patients and families and supporting decision-making
  • Teaching and mentoring other healthcare professionals

AGPCNP (Primary Care) Responsibilities

  • Examining and diagnosing patients, including chronic illnesses, women's health exams, and acute illness
  • Managing acute and chronic conditions
  • Ordering, conducting, and interpreting diagnostic tests
  • Collaborating with other providers to coordinate patient care
  • Advocating for patients
  • Providing education to patients on health promotion, health maintenance, and disease management

AGNP Salary and Outlook

Available salary and career outlook data do not specify the type of NPs but provide ranges for acute and primary care. Understanding that specializing may increase your average salary and career trajectory is critical. It's also important to note that various contributing factors affect differences in pay, including location, tenure, and additional training. 

According to Payscale data from April 2022, NPs earn an average base salary of $103,202. Specializing in acute care carries a base salary of $102,120, and geriatrics comes in at $105,718. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the 2021 median salary for NPs and other advanced practice nurses was $123,780, or almost $60 per hour.

BLS also reports that NPs are one of the fastest-growing professions in the United States. The profession is projected to increase by 52% from 2019 to 2029, far faster than the average job growth for other careers. This data is related to the population increase of older adults and the shift in the industry of using more NPs to provide primary care services.

How to Become an AGNP

Becoming an AGNP requires additional education. You must first obtain a bachelor's degree in nursing and hold a registered nurse license. RNs interested in becoming an AGNP must attend an accredited AGNP program. 

During the program, you'll learn about the study of adult and gerontology care and how to assess, treat, and care for conditions related to aging. As part of your training, you'll complete at least 500 supervised clinical hours working with a licensed NP or physician. 

After obtaining a master's degree or doctorate as an NP, graduates must take and pass the national licensure exam before they can work in their new role. Both AGACNPs and AGPCNPs are certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Once licensed, NPs must remain current by completing continuing education credits on advanced practice nursing care, evidence-based care, and other specialized topics.

While the basic requirements are similar to becoming an AGACNP and AGPCNP, the coursework does vary.

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

The curriculum for an AGACNP is specialized in the acute care setting. Since 2014, nurses who wish to become AGACNPs must choose to specialize in pediatric or adult-gerontology acute care and take the related courses and specialized exams.

The curriculum for an AGACNP includes coursework related to:

  • Different age groups (adolescents, adults, geriatric)
  • Acute care
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology 

Related: 10 Best Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs in 2023

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Coursework for the AGPNP program covers primary care topics. NPs in the program are also taught how to navigate the U.S. healthcare system and policy. 

The curriculum includes coursework in the following:

  • Pharmacology 
  • Health Education and Promotion 
  • Health Care Policy 
  • Advanced Physiology
  • Pathophysiology

Becoming an AGNP is an excellent choice for nurses who want to up their careers. The outlook is promising, and your salary increase should be significant.

Editorial Team / Admin

Carly Elliott has 9 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Hospice Palliative Care and Home Health.

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