URI nurse practitioner program prepares students for career in gerontological care

With the average age in the United States increasing, understanding how aging affects health continues to increase in importance. Among its several graduate degree courses, the URI College of Nursing offers an Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner program to help prepare practicing nurses and nursing students to care for an aging population.

The program offers students the chance to specialize in gerontological care, helping expand the healthcare workforce focused on aging. It’s not just older patients who benefit. The word gerontological may lead some to believe that the program only focuses on care for the elderly, however gerontology is more than that, and focuses on how the aging process affects health. The Adult-Gerontological NP program offers courses that cover how to care for people aged 14 and up, focusing on the many changes in health as patients get older.

The URI College of Nursing also offers an Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program. Find out more here.

“Some of our students do really want to work with geriatrics, and because we are a relatively small program (about 30 students) we can individualize students experiences so they can get what they want,” said Professor Rebecca Carley, director of the Adult-Gerontological NP program. “One semester involves an independent study where students can choose an area they are interested in, and their clinical experiences can also vary based on interest. We have students in every hospital in the state focusing in areas like Cardiology, Orthopedics, Long Term Care and more.”

Students in the program have a unique opportunity to go straight from an undergraduate degree in nursing to a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. They are required complete a total of 46 credits, 14 of which must be completed in nursing core courses. The other 32 credits are in the area of primary health care and related topics, with 21 of those having a gerontology concentration.

Students are able to finish the program in as little as two-and-a-half years, or up to five years depending on full/part-time status. After earning the DNP degree, graduates become certified nurse practitioners by taking either the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (A-GNP) exam, or the ANCC Gerontological Nursing board certification (RN-CB) examination.

To enter into the program, applicants must have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing with a minimum grade point average of 3.0, be eligible for Registered Nurse licensure in Rhode Island, completed two years of clinical nursing experience after their undergraduate degree, and have taken a basic statistics course, which can be done as an undergraduate.