What is a Clinical Nurse Specialist?
A Clinical Nurse Specialist in Gerontology (GCNS) is a member of the nursing profession with graduate-level expertise in the care of aging patients. The GCNS specialty is involved with all aspects of patient care, including preventive, rehabilitative treatments of the aging patient and assessment of health care needs.
How Do You Become a Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist?
You’ll need to take a certification exam from a recognized certifying body. For the GCNS specialty, the most widely recognized credentialing body is the American Nurses Credentialing Center, a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA). They offer computer-based examinations at a number of locations around the United States. The fee for the exams varies depending on whether you are a member of the American Nurses Association or the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists. Certification will need to be renewed every five years. After successfully taking the exam, you will earn a credential as a GCNS-BC (Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist-Board Certified).
Who Is Eligible for the Certification Exam?
Not everyone is eligible to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center examination. You’ll need nursing credentials before applying for the exam. For instance, you’ll need to hold a current license as a registered nurse (RN) and that license must be legally recognized in the United States. You must also have a degree on the Master’s level or higher from an educational body accredited by either the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on the Collegiate of Nursing Education (CCNE). You must have 500 or more hours as a clinical nurse specialist supervised by faculty as part of your degree program and course work in the following subjects: advanced health assessment, advanced pathophysiology, and advanced pharmacology.
A Look at the Exam
The exam consists of 175 questions. Of these questions, 150 count toward the final score. (The remainder are questions being statistically tested for inclusion in future exams.) The questions are divided into seven domains:
- Basic and Applied Science (8 questions)
- Theories of Aging and Theories Applicable to Age (3 questions)
- Advanced Clinical Practice (65 questions)
- Organization/Network/Health System (22 questions)
- Research (9 questions)
- Education (11 questions)
- Professionalism (32 questions)