Considering a Career as an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care?

Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner helping a senior in long term care
Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner helping a senior in long term care

What You Should Know If You’re Considering a Career as an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care?

In this article:

Are you considering a career in primary care as an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner?

You’re in good company. Adult-gerontology is the third most popular specialty for nurse practitioners.

We explore what you need to know about becoming an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner in primary care. Learn about the adult nurse practitioner scope of practice, benefits of focusing on primary care and career outlook.

Plus, find out how the online adult-gerontology nurse practitioner programs at Wilkes University will prepare you to specialize in the primary care needs of aging adults.

adult gerontology nurse practitioners support long term care patients

What Is Adult-Gerontology?

Adult-gerontology is one of six population focus areas for nurse practitioners. An adult-gerontology nurse practitioner treats adolescents, adults and the elderly. In other words, they see patients ages 13 and over.

This age group forms a majority of the U.S. population — over 81% according to 2019 census data.

All nurse practitioners are board certified, and approximately 8% of them are certified as adult-gerontology nurse practitioners in primary care.

Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners can also specialize in a specific healthcare need, such as palliative care or orthopedics.

What Does an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Do?

An adult-gerontology nurse practitioner specializing in primary care assesses, diagnoses and plans for the health needs of adults.

Their duties depend on where they work. A typical workday may involve:

  • Collecting medical history information
  • Performing physical exams
  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests
  • Administering pharmacological and nonpharmacological therapies
  • Coordinating the transition of patients between care settings
  • Providing patient and caregiver education
  • Evaluating the competence of caregivers

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioners employed full-time see an average of 15 patients per day.

They can work in numerous healthcare settings such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Inpatient units
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Private physician practices

In some states, an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner can open a practice of their own.

Twenty-three states permit licensed nurse practitioners to operate a private practice without physician oversight. In other states, they can run one with certain restrictions on their scope of practice and/or autonomy.

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What Is the Adult Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice within Primary Care?

Graduates of adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner programs are prepared to serve adults of all ages “across the continuum of care from wellness to illness,” as stated by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

They have nine key competencies. Outlined by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), these areas form the core of the adult nurse practitioner scope of practice within primary care.

Competencies for Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioners

Here is an overview of national NP core competencies which are aligned with the AGPCNP role, as well.

Scientific Foundations: Contributing to and applying scientific knowledge of the adult-gerontology population to improve care. Identifying and, if necessary, treating changes observed during the aging process.

Leadership: Aiming for optimal care outcomes by advocating for their specialty and patients. Championing their role to the public and other healthcare providers, facilitating the coordination and delivery of care and demonstrating leadership in practice and policy.

Quality: Promoting safety and risk reduction. Evaluating the quality of care models and demonstrating continuous improvement in their practice.

Practice Inquiry: Generating new knowledge and leading the translation into practice. Applying clinical investigation skills, leading practice inquiry, disseminating evidence and analyzing clinical guidelines.

Technology & Information Literacy: Integrating appropriate technologies into care delivery, including using devices and technology to improve patient outcomes. Using appropriate electronic communication methods with all key stakeholders and applying ethical and legal standards to their use of technology.

Policy: Advocating for the full scope of practice, analyzing policy related to the care of the adult-gerontology population. Developing strategies to reduce the effects of ageism, racism/ethnocentrism and sexism on healthcare policies and systems.

Health Delivery System: Managing safe transitions for patients across settings and levels of care. Understanding regulatory processes and payer systems to plan and deliver healthcare services and developing health promotion programs within a health system or community.

Ethics: Advocating for patient and family rights in healthcare decision making, accounting for ethical and legal standards.

Independent Practice: Independently managing the treatment, evaluation and education of patients as a licensed independent practitioner. Collaborating with the patient, family and other healthcare providers to provide the best care.

adult gerontology nurse practitioners support older aged patients

Why Should I Consider Becoming an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner?

The demand is high for primary care providers who treat older adults. That’s because the U.S. is experiencing a severe shortage of physicians.

According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), there will be an estimated shortage between 54,100 and 139,000 of doctors by 2033. Primary care alone is expected to fall short of 21,400 to 55,200 doctors.

What’s causing the deficit? AAMC points to multiple factors, including shifting demographics and physician retirements.

Shifting Demographics

AAMC has reported that the demand for doctors is primarily driven by population growth and aging.

Between 2018 and 2033, experts forecast the U.S. population will grow by over 10%. The population of adults ages 65 and over will experience the most growth, expanding by 45%.

As a result, the demand will continue to rise for healthcare providers who care for older adults, such as adult-gerontology nurse practitioners.

Physician Retirements

Adding to the physician shortage is the soaring number of retirements. In the next 10 years, two in five currently active doctors will be age 65 or over.

As doctors exit the profession, the supply needed to meet growing healthcare demands will dwindle.

The Role of the Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

By becoming an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, you can help address the shortage of doctors.

Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioners are positioned for long-lasting and meaningful careers.

Although the scope of practice does not change for an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, states vary by full practice authority and can determine the clinical practice.

Still, since adult-gerontology nurse practitioners are qualified to treat patients ages 13 and up, they can make a broad impact on the U.S. population.

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adult gerontology nurse practitioners have great career prospects

What’s the Career Outlook for Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioners?

Thanks to the demand for their services, adult-gerontology nurse practitioners in primary care have healthy job prospects. The role also comes with high earning potential and satisfaction.

Job Prospects

Over the next decade, all nurse practitioners can expect a robust job market.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that nurse practitioners' employment will grow by 28% between 2018 and 2028.

This growth rate equates to 53,300 new jobs and is over five times the national average. It’s also higher than projections for other advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

For adult-gerontology nurse practitioners in primary care, job prospects may be especially plentiful. They can apply for positions involving primary care and the treatment of young to older adults.


Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners can earn a substantial income.

Their average salary is 89,521. This is 33% higher than the average RN salary ($64,580).

With five to nine years of experience, adult-gerontology nurse practitioners can reach their peak earning potential. The average salary at this stage is $102,000.

According to AANP, the median salary of full-time adult-gerontology nurse practitioners in primary care is $112,000. In other words, half earn an annual wage that exceeds this figure.

Nurse practitioners across all specialties can make more in certain states. For a higher salary, consider working in one of these top-paying locations:

  1. California: $145,970
  2. New Jersey: $130,890
  3. Washington: $126,480
  4. New York: $126,440
  5. Massachusetts: $126,050

In Pennsylvania, the home of Wilkes University, the mean annual wage for nurse practitioners is $111,560.

Job Satisfaction

Thanks to the booming job market and strong salary potential, nurse practitioner is one of the top jobs in the nation.

U.S. News & World Report ranked it the #1 best job in healthcare. It’s also the #2 best job in STEM and the country overall. In addition to the salary and job market, nurse practitioner received a high score for future growth.

By becoming an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner in primary care, you can enjoy all of the benefits of the nurse practitioner role. Plus, you can feel good about making a difference in the lives of adult patients.

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adult gerontology nurse practitioners support patients with chronic conditions

What Are the Steps to Becoming an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner?

Becoming a nurse practitioner takes dedication and practice. Here is how you can start your career as an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner:

1. Earn an Undergraduate Degree

Some adult-gerontology nurse practitioner programs require candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing. If you have an associate’s degree, consider completing an RN to MSN-NP program, such as the one offered online by Wilkes.

2. Become an RN

You must be an RN with an unencumbered license before applying to an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner program.

3. Earn a Master’s Degree and/or Complete a Post-graduate Program

Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners are APRNs with graduate-level education. At minimum, they’ve earned their master’s in nursing and either completed a nurse practitioner program with a concentration in adult-gerontology, or earned a post-graduate/APRN certificate.

Nurses with a minimum of a master’s degree or a DNP degree can qualify to take the AGPCNP post-graduate/APRN certification program at Wilkes.

4. Pass the Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam

Graduates of adult-gerontology nurse practitioner programs are eligible for certification.

Two accreditation agencies offer a certification exam for adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioners – ANCC and AANP.

Passing either exam will help you become a nationally board certified adult-gerontology nurse practitioner.

Your certification will be valid for five years. Then, you'll renew it according to the process outlined by ANCC or AANP.

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adult gerontology nurse practitioners support hospitals

How Will Wilkes University Help Me Become an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care?

Wilkes University offers three accredited online adult-gerontology nurse practitioner programs that focus on primary care:

These programs will channel your passion for patient care and prepare you to change lives. You'll develop the specialized knowledge and skills to care for adolescents, adults and geriatric patients.

Students learn to:

  • Promote quality outcomes in the adult and gerontology population across the spectrum of adolescents, adults and older adults.
  • Facilitate health promotion, protection and disease prevention in the adult-gerontology population.
  • Provide chronic primary and acute primary healthcare to the adolescent, adult and older adult population.
  • Integrate evidence-based nursing theories with health assessment and diagnostic reasoning of chronic and acute primary healthcare problems.

As a graduate, you’ll be equipped to elevate your nursing career and make a difference for patients and communities.

High-Value, Quality Education

Students at Wilkes work toward achieving their goals as part of a well-respected, nationally ranked institution.

Wilkes University has received numerous accolades, including recognition as:

  • Best Northeastern College – The Princeton Review
  • Top 10% Ranked Institution Nationally for Graduate Earnings – Brookings Institution
  • Top Ranked University for 16 Consecutive Years – U.S. News & World Report

As a student, you'll also benefit from competitively priced tuition recognized for its return on investment.

Preparation to Excel

At Wilkes, we emphasize professional and scholarly development. The curriculum focuses on advanced clinical skills, professionalism and evidence-based practice.

It also integrates national board exam preparation – you’ll receive dedicated study resources as part of your coursework.

As a result, our graduates consistently achieve licensure pass rates above the national average.

Clinical Placement and Support

Finding quality clinical sites is crucial to your success as an aspiring adult-gerontology nurse practitioner. That’s why Wilkes’s online adult-gerontology nurse practitioner programs include clinical placement services and a dedicated clinical team to support you during all clinical rotations.

Our student-centric services help alleviate the burden many students feel during clinical placement, so you can save time and focus on your education.

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How Can I Get Started?

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