Becoming a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Gerontology takes a special kind of person, one who is highly compassionate with the emotional stability to handle such a position. Most AG CNS’s work in hospital or clinic-type settings which are set up to care for the patients. If you’re thinking about getting a specialized nursing degree in Adult Gerontology to care for our aging population, read on to find out what it takes to get there.
What do Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialists (AG CNS) Do?
An Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist has chosen to focus their career on the care of the aging and elderly demographic. The amount of education an Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist receives is pretty parallel to that of a doctor. They are able to diagnose and treat illness in their area of expertise which, in this instance, is dedicated to aging adults. Whether or not they can prescribe medications is determined by two factors: which state they live in, as some allow all CNS to prescribe or, they may have to get an additional certification which allows them to prescribe medications.
AG CNS’s work in facilities specific to the aging population, such as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, home health care agencies, outpatient practices, long-term care, and hospitals. Some AG CNS’s also choose to work in research, administration, or education. They may also decide to run on an entrepreneurial path.
In addition to treating patients within their speciality, all Clinical Nurse Specialists are expected to train or supervise emerging nurses. They also make observations and reports on their findings based on patient outcomes, and the overall clinical practice along with improvement recommendations.
How Do You Become a Adult Gerontology CNS?
All Clinical Nurse Specialists start out similarly. The route toward a career as an Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist begins with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Because most graduate degree programs are very competitive and a necessity to becoming a CNS of any sort, maintaining a minimum of a 3.0 grade point average is recommended. Also, a volunteer internship is recommended, as well.
Once you’re an RN (which is the result of the bachelor’s degree), you’ll need to get licensed through the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nursing (NCLEX-RN) which is given by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Some states may require the NCLEX-RN along with other licenses so it is best to check with your state to find out the exact requirements. If you’ve already gotten licensed in your state but need to move to a different state, you can apply for a licensing endorsement.
A Master’s degree program come next, after working for a minimum of two years as a registered nurse. If you’re going into adult gerontology, those two years must be spent in that specialty area. It’s important to note the verification requirements per the school’s graduate program you’re thinking of attending.
The master’s degree program in Clinical Specialty Nursing in adult gerontology will take 2-3.5 years to complete, depending on whether you go full or part time. Part of this program may include pharmacology-related courses, which will allow you to prescribe medications and many employers prefer their CNS’s to have this extra certification.
The next step is to apply for certification. While not all CNS specialties require a certification, adult gerontology does which is through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The certification needs to be renewed every five years and does need continuing education credits in order to be valid.
Lastly, most states do require all Clinical Nurse Specialists, specialties notwithstanding, to be certified by the state nursing board. Each state may have it’s own set of requirements but the basics are that the RN license must be maintained, graduated from an accredited program, and have a graduate degree from an accredited advanced nursing program.
How Much do Adult Gerontology CNS Make and What is the Job Outlook?
“The median annual wage for registered nurses was $70,000 in May 2017. … The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,100.”
Payscale.com lists Clinical Nurse Specialist average salaries at $82,600. However, as a Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, the average salary is a little lower at $79,508. On the high end, AG CNS’s that have been in the field for a few years earn well over $100K annually. These figures are the national average but pay has varying factors such as geographic location as well as the hiring industry.
Schools Offering Nursing Programs
- Florida Career College
- Fortis Institute
- Southern Careers Institute
- Remington College
- New England Institute of Technology
- Virginia College
- St. Paul’s School of Nursing
- Miller Motte College
- Iowa Central Community College
- Daymar College
- Miles Community College
- Northwestern College