If you’re considering a career as an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP), then you’re in good company. More adult-gerontology nurse practitioners are certified in primary care over acute care, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).
The growing aging population demands advanced healthcare providers who are prepared to address the unique primary care needs of older adults. AGPCNPs are educated to do just that.
Read on to learn more about the role of an AGPCNP and how it differs from other types of NPs. We’ll also explore the importance of primary care, career outlook, future trends in healthcare and more.
What is the Role of an AGPCNP?
An AGPCNP works with adults of all ages in a variety of environments, including long-term care settings, community-based clinics, and private practices.They manage acute and chronic illnesses and are also focused on health promotion and disease prevention. Like other types of nurse practitioners, an AGPCNP works as part of an interdisciplinary healthcare team.
According to AANP, the AGPCNP role includes the following:
- Assessing, diagnosing, and planning for the patient's health needs.
- Examining medical histories, performing physical examinations, ordering screening tests, interpreting diagnostic tests, and administering pharmacological and nonpharmacological therapies.
- Providing patient and caregiver education and assessment
- Considering the impacts of environmental, occupational, social, and economic backgrounds on the patient’s health and corresponding treatment plan.
What Qualifications Are Needed to Become an AGPCNP?
In the U.S., you must present the following qualifications and competence to practice as an AGPCNP:
- Obtain a baccalaureate degree or higher in nursing.
- Complete and pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
- Obtain your RN license.
- Earn your MSN or DNP degree specializing in adult-gerontology primary care.
- Earn your board certification in adult-gerontology primary care through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB).
- Obtain AGPCNP licensure in your intended state of practice.
How Does the AGPCNP Role Differ from FNPs?
If you’re looking to further your career in advanced nursing practice, you may be considering different specializations. One common role is the family nurse practitioner (FNP).
FNPs focus on delivering primary care to individuals and families across the lifespan. They manage common acute and chronic illnesses and promote health and wellbeing through disease prevention, patient-centered treatment, and education.
FNPs seek to meet the healthcare needs of diverse populations ranging from infants to the elderly. Since they treat patients of all ages, they work in numerous settings, including private practices, community-based clinics, retail clinics, and schools.
In comparison, an AGPCNP works exclusively with patients ages 18 and over. They have acquired specialized knowledge and clinical competence so that they can screen patients for common health concerns and deliver individually-tailored treatment throughout adulthood.
Some AGPCNPs provide a wide range of services, including palliative and end-of-life care. They also help patients manage chronic conditions such as heart disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and arthritis.
Like FNPs, AGPCNPs can work in various practice settings, like hospital outpatient clinics and private group practice.
What Are the Differences between Acute Care and Primary Care AGNP Practice?
Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners are certified in primary care (AGPCNP) or acute care (AGACNP). Their scope of practice is based on the patient population and not their practice setting, although they may work in different environments.
Acute Care v.s. Primary Care
AGACNPs provide care to adults and geriatric patients experiencing complex and acute conditions. Acute conditions are often caused by an infection or virus, but can also be caused by an injury due to an accident or misuse of drugs or medications.
Many AGACNPs can be found in intensive care, trauma, or acute care units—some may also work in specialty clinics and long-term care facilities. AGACNPs focus on stabilizing patients and improving their health condition while preventing future complications.
Some common illnesses the AGACNP may treat include:
- Asthma attack
- Broken bone
- Heart attack
The AGACNP-patient relationship is short-term. That’s because AGACNPs deliver restorative care “characterized by rapidly changing clinical conditions.” These include acute, critical, and complex chronic conditions that require frequent monitoring and intervention.
In contrast, chronic conditions treated by the AGPCNP in the primary care setting are typically caused by unhealthy behaviors that increase the risk of disease, such as poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, drug or alcohol abuse, etc.
Some common illnesses the AGPCNP may treat include:
- High or low blood pressure
- Headaches or migraines
- High cholesterol
- Urinary tract infections
This is where patient education allows AGPCNPs to make a difference as they provide “comprehensive, continuous care” for stable patients, many of whom return to the AGPCNP for additional healthcare services.
As a result, the AGPCNP often enjoys long-term patient-provider relationships. They focus on health maintenance and managing chronic conditions. The AGPCNP also coordinates care with specialized providers beyond their scope of practice.
What is the Career Outlook for an AGPCNP?
With healthcare needs in the U.S. and the current job market, nurses who want to become an AGPCNP can expect a bright outlook.
From more work-life balance to higher salaries, there are many benefits to advancing your nursing career and pursuing the path of an AGPCNP.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the median annual wage for NPs at $111,680 as of 2020. According to the AANP, an AGPCNP can earn slightly more. A full-time AGPCNP earns a median salary of $112,000.
The BLS forecasts that the NP role will see 52 percent growth between 2019 and 2029. That figure is over 13 times higher than the average growth rate for all jobs.
Just 7 percent of NPs work in adult-gerontology primary care, compared to more than 69 percent of NPs working as FNPs. As a result, there is a considerable need for AGPCNPs in the U.S., especially for the aging population.
The United States Health and Aging Policy Fellows reports that more than 20 percent of Americans will have reached age 65 or over by 2030. This trend means that the country will need more NPs specializing in adult-gerontology primary care.
Individuals experience specific challenges related to aging throughout their lifetimes. AGPCNPs treat chronic conditions and illnesses as they arise and educate patients on steps they can take to improve their health. In this way, AGPCNPs play a vital role in taking care of the aging population.
NPs often report high satisfaction with their careers. Findings from an Advisory Board survey found that NPs showed excellent satisfaction rates ranging up to 96 percent.
The NP role is also listed as #2 Best Healthcare Jobs in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 rankings.
What Healthcare Trends Will Affect the AGPCNP Role?
Current trends in healthcare are expanding the AGPCNP role to meet the needs of our country’s diverse patient population. Here are a few examples:
Growing Chronic Disease
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability. Currently, six in 10 U.S. adults have one chronic disease and four in 10 have multiple.
The good news is that many chronic diseases can be prevented through healthier lifestyle choices. The primary causes of chronic diseases are smoking, poor nutrition, a lack of physical activity, and alcohol consumption.
The AANP says NPs maximize the healthcare workforce’s ability to address the challenges of chronic disease. AGPCNPs play an especially vital role. That’s because they can care for patients ages 18 and over, the population most affected by chronic disease.
AGPCNPs are educated to not only manage and treat chronic disease but to prevent it. As an AGPCNP, you’ll help save lives and reduce healthcare costs.
Increased Telehealth Adoption
Telehealth adoption and satisfaction is growing amid COVID-19.
A July 2021 report from McKinsey & Company showed that telehealth usage “has stabilized at levels 38 times higher than before the pandemic.” In June 2021, the American Psychiatric Association released survey results showing that 2 in 5 respondents want to continue using telehealth after the pandemic.
What does this trend mean for the AGPCNP role?
AGPCNPs must be prepared to use telehealth platforms and to educate patients on how to do the same. Before implementing telehealth, they should also be aware of federal and state legal requirements, best practices to ensure patient safety, as well as their needs for additional liability insurance.
Higher Demand for Primary Care Providers
The nation needs more primary care providers to meet the demand for American healthcare.
By 2034, the American Association of Medical Colleges estimates that the U.S. will have a shortage of between 17,800 and 48,000 primary care physicians. Multiple factors are contributing to the deficit, including a growing aging population and many doctors nearing retirement age.
Fortunately, AGPCNPs are prepared to help fill the gap. According to the AANP, NPs make “high-quality, patient-centered health care available to the broadest possible range of consumers.” Evidence shows that NP care is cost-effective and of equal or better quality than comparable services offered by other providers.This is why the AANP advocates for all NPs to practice to the full extent of their clinical training.
Currently, 25 states grant NPs full practice authority. The remaining states restrict at least one element of NP practice and/or mandate career-long supervision by another healthcare provider.
However, progress is being made due to widespread efforts, including most recently, California—where some NPs are allowed to practice independently if certain criteria are met.
By becoming an AGPCNP, you’ll be equipped to provide comprehensive primary healthcare services to more than three-quarters of Americans. In turn, you’ll play an integral role in improving the quality and availability of primary care.
Make a Difference as an AGPCNP
Are you ready to improve healthcare as an AGPCNP?
Advance your nursing career while helping patients live healthier lives. Spring Arbor's online Master of Science in Nursing - AGPCNP concentration will help you:
- Gain knowledge of gerontology concepts and how they meet older adults' biological, psychosocial, mental, and spiritual needs.
- Understand what goes into the management of chronic disease and the complex care needs of elderly individuals.
- Learn how to arrange and evaluate care for health-compromised clients through case management and interdisciplinary collaboration.
- Learn essential competencies and methodologies to deliver comprehensive primary care to adolescents, adults, seniors, and geriatric patients.