Why The Demand For Adult Gerontology Nurses Will Increase

Why The Demand For Adult Gerontology Nurses Will Increase

Demand for nurses is growing with no end in sight. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic placed significant strain on the healthcare system, especially when it comes to staffing, demand for nursing practitioners with advanced skills was already high. The American Nurses Association (ANA) predicts there will be an 11% growth rate in the demand for nursing practitioners through the year 2022. Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated more than 175,000 nursing positions will open each year through 2029.

That’s already a lot of demand — but the demand for adult gerontology nurses is poised to grow even more than the average.

Gerontology is the study of aging and its effects on patients. Where geriatrics focuses solely on the physical aspects of aging, gerontology studies the mental, social, and societal effects of aging, rather than just the physical.

Typical job roles for degree holders in adult gerontology nursing might include:

  • Primary caregiver
  • Clinical nursing diagnostics and treatments
  • Rehabilitation programs
  • Acute care
  • Palliative care

Gerontology can involve adolescents, adults, and the elderly when it comes to studying the effects of aging — but has become increasingly focused on the elderly.

An aging global population

Why is adult gerontology nursing concentrating more on the elderly? Quite simply, because there are more elderly than there ever have been.

Because of advancing medical technology and easy access to information about staying fit, the adult lifespan has gotten considerably longer. The average lifespan in the 1950s was roughly 68 years — it’s now closer to 78 years.

A United Nations aging report states that globally, the number of senior persons is growing faster than any other age group. By 2030, the number of people in the world aged 60 years or over is projected to grow by 56%. By 2050 the number of people aged 80 years and over would reach 434 million, having more than tripled in number from 125 million in 2015.

Right now, there are over 700 million people aged 65 or older, and global life expectancy is expected to grow even further — possibly up to 84 years.

In the face of these rising numbers, demand for adult gerontology is increasing steadily because there simply aren ‘t enough qualified nurses to keep pace with the aging population.

Where Adult Gerontology Nurses Work

Because of the broad, interdisciplinary nature of their work, adult gerontology nurses can take jobs in any number of environments, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities (retirement homes and villages, nursing homes), and hospice facilities.

Specializing as an Adult Gerontology Practitioner

The educational requirements for this specialization can be demanding. To become an adult gerontology nurse practitioner, a student must first attain their Bachelor of Science degree and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Once they are an official RN, they must then complete their Master’s of Science degree program, taking advanced courses in pharmacology, clinical assessment, and pathophysiology. Finally, the student must obtain a nurse practitioner certification from The American Academy of Nurse Practicioners or the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Once the RN has achieved their master’s degree, they may specialize further when pursuing their post-master’s nurse certificate practicioner program. There are several specific kinds of certification, including:

  • Post-Master’s Nurse Practitioner Certificate – Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN FNPC)
  • Post-Master’s Nurse Practitioner Certificate – Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (MSN AGPCNPC)
  • Post-Master’s Nurse Practitioner Certificate – Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (MSN AGACNPC)
  • Post-Master’s Nurse Practitioner Certificate – Pediatric (Primary Care) Nurse Practitioner (MSN PNPC)
  • Post-Master’s Nurse Practitioner Certificate – Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (MSN PMHNPC)

Career Prospects

There are a number of benefits to attaining a post-master’s NP certificate. Not only can an RN specialize in a particular field, but they can add additional specializations with certification in other areas, such as pediatric primary care or family practice. Not surprisingly, getting such a certificate can significantly raise your career prospects and salary — the median salary for an AGNP is $98,000, with salaries ranging up to $114,000. You’ll also be eligible to apply for national board certifications for your chosen specialites.

As you’ve likely guessed by now, the future career prospects for AGNPs are considerable. US News & World Report ranked “nurse practitioner” as number two on its list of the 100 best jobs in America in 2022 — up from number three in 2021.

The top 50% of AGNPs take home six-figure salaries, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 52% growth in employment for nurse practitioners between now and 2030.

That growth is likely to remain strong — simply put, the world’s population isn’t getting any younger, and the number of patients 75 and older are only going to grow as life expectancy continues to expand and more and more elderly people need quality care. The healthcare world needs qualified AGNPs to meet that demand, and likely will for the foreseeable future.