The scope of practice for an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner

The Population Reference Bureau estimates that the number of Americans aged 65 and over will increase to 95 million by 2060. This has led to the need for more adult-gerontology nurses to cater to the country’s rapidly aging population.

Pursuing a career in gerontology nursing allows you to provide compassionate patient care and address common adult health needs. However, to start working as an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, you must be a registered nurse with an advanced degree in adult/gerontology nursing. 

Enrolling in a Ulndy online AGPCNP program allows you to study at your convenience and enhance your nursing skills by developing expertise in gerontology.

Read on to learn more about adult-gerontology nursing and the nurse’s roles and responsibilities. 

What is adult-gerontology nursing?

Adult-gerontology nursing is a specialty that focuses on providing care and treatment from adolescence to advanced age. 

Gerontology nurses offer comprehensive care to older patients under a practicing physician’s supervision. 

Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners are categorized into two types:

  • Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner: AG-PCNPs focus on improving the patient’s overall health and preventing illness.
  • Adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner: AG-ACNPs diagnose, treat and stabilize the patient’s condition while providing palliative treatment. 

Roles of an adult-gerontology nurse

An adult-gerontology nurse practitioner has various roles depending on the state in which they work. Some of these include:

  • Assess and diagnose senior patients

An adult-gerontology primary care nurse assesses a patient’s illness, including analyzing their health history and symptoms and developing a diagnosis to help them create the right treatment plan. The nurse also performs physical examinations, including functional, psychosocial and developmental assessments. 

AG-NPs may also stabilize patients in inpatient settings or hospitals.

  • Educate patients on potential health concerns 

Gerontology nurses are also responsible for proactive health management, which entails educating patients on potential health concerns due to aging. They help patients understand the reasons behind certain conditions and guide their families in managing the disease’s psychological, physical and social impact.

  • Treat recurrent conditions

Adult-gerontology nurses treat recurrent conditions like incontinence, dehydration, constipation and psychological dysfunctions among the elderly using therapeutic or pharmaceutical prescriptions.

Depending on the state, the nurse may prescribe medication independently or in collaboration with a physician. Gerontology nurses also track medication progress, monitor the effects of prescribed medication and recommend specific guidelines for the caregivers to ensure patient recovery. 

  • Order diagnostic testing

Adult-gerontology nurses may request diagnostic testing like X-rays and lab tests. They also interpret the results of these diagnostic tests, develop the proper diagnoses and create a comprehensive treatment plan. 

  • Provide routine assessments and checkups

Adult-gerontology nurses evaluate the elderly health through routine assessments and checkups to determine how illnesses and declined cognitive function affect the patient’s well-being.

Gerontology nurses screen for common senior ailments like depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s. They also check for less-known illnesses that may be triggered by aging, which allows them to plan the patient’s treatment accordingly. 

Carrying out routine assessments also allows nurses to discover health-related threats based on previous medical records. 

  • Offer health counseling and education

Most seniors have health conditions that can be treated and managed at home. An adult-gerontology nurse takes the patient and their family through a health regimen that may include equipment like blood pressure monitors, changes in diet, exercises and medication. 

AG-ACNPs also educate the patient and family about disease prevention and personal safety.

  • Provide referrals for specialty care

Some health conditions are advanced and will require hospitalization and medical care. Gerontology nurses provide referrals and link families with appropriate specialists who can help treat and manage the disease. 

  • Collaborate and coordinate with other specialty clinicians and healthcare providers

Adult-gerontology nurses also collaborate and coordinate with other healthcare providers to ensure a seamless transition of patients between care settings. 

Seniors who require extra medical care, such as outpatient surgery or geriatric mental health, may require hospitalization. Geriatric nurses work with the treatment teams, helping manage patient care from assessment through treatment plan evaluation. 

  • Consult on community health policies

Adult-gerontology nurses can also assist with creating community health policies. They participate in research studies involving palliative care and discuss issues surrounding public policies that affect their patients.

Where does an adult-gerontology nurse work?

Geriatric nurses can work in nursing homes, hospitals, senior community centers, retirement homes, rehabilitation facilities and patients’ homes. Additionally, adult-gerontology nurses can work in specialty areas like oncology, orthopedics, dermatology and more.

Some states allow licensed nursing practitioners to open a private practice without a physician’s supervision. 


A career in adult gerontology nursing allows you to provide the best care for aging patients. The expected increase in the aging population means the demand for adult-gerontology nursing practitioners will be high, which makes this a career worth pursuing.

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