Supported by a growing aging population, the number of job opportunities for nurse practitioners (NP) is anticipated to grow by 31 percent in coming years, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In metro Los Angeles, advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) earn an average annual salary of more than $105,000, according to current employment data.

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Lorie H. Judson)

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Lorie H. Judson)

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“Within the next 20 years, it is estimated that one-in-five residents in Los Angeles County will be 65 years of age or older,” said Dr. Lorie H. Judson, a professor and director of the School of Nursing at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). “As a result, there is a strong, anticipated future need for both primary and acute care gerontology specialists.”

The veteran nursing scholar said to expect a wealth of employment opportunities to materialize within the next five years in the field of gerontology.

“Los Angeles County is projected to have a 50 percent increase in the number of residents over 85 by 2020,” said Judson, who earned her Ph.D. in nursing from the University of San Diego. “The influence of this demographic will emerge more strongly between the years of 2030 and 2040, as the first wave of baby boomers reaches 85 years of age.”

How is CSULA readying students for this employment blast?

“With adult gerontology being one of the six primary population foci of future APRN education, we have merged gerontology content into both adult primary and acute care specialties.“

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What defines a successful adult-gerontology NP?

“Key attributes include strong integrity, a high level of professional savvy, and the ability to access, diagnose and treat patients with independent decision-making.”

What pivotal advances do you expect to see in approaching years?

“I would hope that by 2022, the scope of practice for nurse practitioners will broaden to enable them to provide care in a skilled nursing facility without physician supervision.”

What is your advice to NPs interested in this vocation?

“It is important to select an institution with an outstanding reputation in NP education to best prepare them for national board exams and their future practice.”

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Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.