Geriatric nurse practitioners (GNPs) provide medical services for older patients. They share skills common among all advanced nurse practitioners. Senior care institutions rely on GNPs to provide comprehensive healthcare services for aging patients. Geriatric nursing practitioners conduct physicals, evaluate well-being and devise care plans specifically for these individuals. GNPs educate senior clients and their caregivers on matters regarding geriatric well-being and also consult with senior patients and their caregivers. Geriatric nursing practitioners advance their discipline through involvement with the National Gerontological Nursing Association, which works with geriatric professionals to produce positive patient outcomes among the senior population.
Delivering Heathcare to the Aging Population
Geriatric nurse practitioners provide healthcare for senior patients – delivering services such as diagnoses, examinations and prescriptions.  Depending on the setting, the medical community also recognizes the role as gerontological nurse practitioner or gerontological advanced practice nursing. These professionals deliver primary healthcare services, while working closely with geriatric physicians. GNPs work with senior care, home health aide and hospice services, performing annual checkups and screenings to identify sicknesses.
The GNP workday involves many tasks and typically follows a structured framework. These nurse practitioners spend much of their day working directly and independently with patients. GNPs help elderly clients manage pain and decide if symptoms require further study through testing and manage conditions by prescribing medication and therapy.
GNPs’ Roles and Responsibilities
Advanced practice nurses, such as GNPs, share several competencies.  The National Organization of Nurse Practitioners Faculties (NONPF) outlines these competencies for all advanced nursing disciplines. The NONPF expects nurses to exhibit proficiency in managing and monitoring patient health. They also expect nurse practitioners to have an ability to build relationships with their patients and educate patients and stakeholders as medical innovations evolve. The organization also encourages advanced practice nurses to collaborate with groups supporting discipline specific care.
The group expects these professionals to competently manage and negotiate service delivery on behalf of their patients, as well as monitor and advocate quality caregiving. NONPF also encourages nurse practitioners to incorporate cultural sensitivity into their practice.
Geriatric nursing practitioners build on caregiving skills earned during their careers as RNs. The medical community classifies the geriatric population into four categories, which are:
GNPs work in many settings, including but not limited to:
Geriatric nursing candidates earn Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degrees focused on senior patient care, followed by certification via the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Entry-level GNPs typically serve as RNs for approximately 10 years before delivering advanced service. The healthcare professionals combine the latest theoretical and scientific concepts to manage senior well-being. These discoveries allow GNPs to promote and protect senior health, as well as treat diseases and conditions affecting the aging population.
Caregiving facilities call on geriatric nurse practitioners to evaluate senior patient health, using scientific methods, guidelines and evidence to identify and deliver senior healthcare needs. The care providers analyze senior patient conditions by benchmarking patient conditions against what the medical community concedes to as normal health for individuals of varying mature ages; geriatric nursing practitioners determine where a senior stands regarding normal advanced age development.
GNPs also maintain a watchful eye for external threats to senior patients, such as neglect or abuse. Self-induced conditions, such as drug abuse or malnutrition, also present threats to the senior population and warrant careful vigilance by geriatric nurse practitioners. By monitoring these combined threats, geriatric nurses gain a comprehensive overview of senior patient well-being.
Advanced Skills among Practitioners
Geriatric nurse practitioners conduct in-depth, senior-centered physical evaluations. They also evaluate patient mental health, dietary habits and external support networks. For seniors housed in long-term care facilities, GNPs monitor for environmental-specific problems. These professionals also evaluate external factors that increase geriatric patient stress, such as responsibilities and personal relationships.
GNPs analyze patient health using practices specific to senior clients. They evaluate how diminished cognitive functions and multiple illnesses combine to threaten patient well-being, as well as possible health related threats discovered based on patient medical records.
Geriatric nurse practitioners possess a discrete understanding of how common senior ailments – such as delirium, dementia and depression – affect overall patient health. GNPs screen for conditions and changes commonly associated with geriatric patients. They also look for less common illnesses occurring within this group due to symptoms triggered by multiple conditions. These competencies allow geriatric nurse practitioners to plan wellness-improving treatments for senior clients.
Geriatric nurse practitioners plan and execute strategies to treat illnesses among senior patients. The plans stabilize patient health, mitigate client physical and mental health threats and improve overall well-being. GNPs treat recurrent conditions among the senior patient population, such as:
GNPs attempt to reduce these events by making environmental and habitual suggestions to remove risks. Some interventions include pharmaceutical or therapeutic prescriptions, while others include procedural guidelines for caregivers.
Geriatric nurse practitioners consult with senior patients to develop ongoing care and hospice plans. They prescribe and monitor the plans to make sure the client receives maximum benefit. GNPs consider patient resilience and activity level when devising care plans. They typically deliver many services directly. Geriatric nurse practitioners learn new senior medical care information consistently and incorporate this knowledge into their service delivery.
GNPs build sincere relationships with their patients, facilitating effective treatment delivery. As patients progress in age, the nurse practitioners adjust treatment plans specific to the patient’s current geriatric classification. Geriatric nurse practitioners also observe how plan, setting and treatment changes affect senior patients.
In long-term caregiving settings, GNPs monitor and assess how the environment affects senior patients mentally and physically. They work with family members to provide senior patients with an ongoing sense of independence. Upon patient mortality, GNPs continue to deliver service by assisting family members in coping with loss and grieving.
GNP Communication Skills
Geriatric nurse practitioners provide healthcare information to the senior patient population. They coach patients regarding their individual treatment plans and offer encouragement. Geriatric health education is a continual learning and teaching process. Therefore, GNPs conduct learning sessions with clients and family members regularly, recognizing and incorporating contributions made by caregivers. Geriatric nurse practitioners also advise senior patients on sensitive topics important to their well-being. When disseminating facts to clients, GNPs consider the client’s ability to absorb and comprehend information.
GNPs assume roles that advance senior community well-being. As professional care providers, they work to uphold and improve the geriatric discipline. They use their professional relationships to support this outcome.
Geriatric nurse practitioners evaluate and incorporate new concepts relevant to senior care. They serve as advocates to promote health among the senior population. Geriatric nurse practitioners also work with non-medical caregivers to coordinate appropriate patient management and care, as well as collaborate with and support community groups that support senior population well-being.
GNPs manage and negotiate terms relevant to senior patient care.  They also assist caregivers and family members in negotiating terms concerning service delivery for senior patients. To achieve this, geriatric nurse practitioners stay current with legal and regulatory guidelines relevant to the senior population. Using these guidelines, GNPs monitor and protect senior patients during healthcare service delivery. This includes assessing their own nursing practice as well as service delivery by their professional peers. Finally, GNPs make sure senior patients do not suffer from discrimination due to their age and also work to make sure that senior patients receive optimal care at cost-effective rates.
Advocates for Senior Healthcare
The National Gerontological Nursing Association (NGNA) promotes effective senior care service delivery. The NGNA is the primary networking association among GNPs. Geriatric practitioners, academics and scientists collaborate under the organization to promote senior patient health. NGNA members emerge from diverse disciplines, such as:
Clinical nursing specialists
Clinical staff nurses
Directors of Nursing
The organization works to develop and endorse guidelines that produce positive outcomes for the senior patient population. They believe the group will meet this goal by incorporating input from all professionals working in geriatric related disciplines; NGNA advocates respect for all disciplines catering to the senior community. Through this collective effort, the organization continually develops service delivery improvements. This mutual respect and collaboration also allows organization members to quickly identify and remedy threats to the senior patient population.
Geriatric nursing practitioners possess skills to help serve needs related to the growing senior patient population. The senior population presents special needs requiring attention from dedicated medical and non-clinical personnel. Geriatric patients come from every conceivable background. The medical community needs diverse, talented and patient individuals to manage and treat conditions arising among older clients.
Geriatric nurse practitioners provide healthcare services to improve senior patient health by utilizing many competencies common among advanced nurse practitioners and specific to the geriatrics field. Caregiving institutions employ GNPs to maximize well-being among senior clients by monitoring, analyzing and treating conditions common among aging patients. These professionals also consult with patients and their caregivers to develop and implement effective care plans. As the population continues to mature – the need for effective, qualified geriatric nurse practitioners will increase accordingly.
The growing senior population in the U.S. is adding to the demand for health care as a whole, but no profession is better equipped to meet the unique needs of elderly patients than adult geriatric nurse practitioners. With Regis’ online Adult Geriatric Nurse Practitioner-focused Master of Science in Nursing program, you can join this in-demand specialization and help elderly patients maintain healthy and comfortable lives.