Who should sit for the Gerontological Specialist Certification exam?

The GS-C specialty certification is designed for Advanced Practice Nurses working with older adults. This certification shows experience and expertise in the field of gerontology.

As an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner or Family Nurse Practitioner, why should I get Gerontological Specialist-Certified (GS-C)?

The GS-C specialty certification distinguishes APRNs who possess expert knowledge, experience, and skill in managing the complex health needs of older adults. This certification recognizes expertise at the proficient level in managing complex older adults.

If I already have a foundational nurse practitioner certification, why should I take the exam?

Foundational nurse practitioner certifications, such as the APRN-CNS(c), provide acknowledgement of the competency of the CNS in working with adults and older adults. The APRN Gerontological Specialist (GS-C) certification demonstrates expert proficiency for the management of complex older adults. With the retirement of the Gerontological NP and CNS certification, the validation for knowledge, skills, and experience on working with the health issues of the complex older adults is a missing piece to credentialing for this advanced experience.

Does the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA) provide certification?

GAPNA does NOT provide certification. Certification is provided through the Gerontology Nursing Certification Commission, GNCC, a separate commission established to provide APRN Gerontological Specialist certification.

What certification exams are offered by GNCC?

GNCC currently offers the APRN Gerontological Specialist Certification exam.

Does GNCC offer educational courses or training materials to prepare exam candidates to take the Gerontological Specialist certification exams?

No, GNCC is a certification agency and does not approve, develop, offer, or endorse any educational programs. The commission does provide a list of resources that may be helpful in preparing for the GS-C certification exam. We also recommend that you contact the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA) for study materials.

Are there currently any graduate programs or fellowship opportunities to meet the edibility requirements for the Gerontological Specialist certification?

No, however, GNCC encourages organizations and groups to pursue developing graduate programs and fellowship opportunities toward meeting the eligibility criteria to take the certification exam.

What is the current passing score for the GS-C exam?

The current passing score is 73%.

Approximately how long is the exam?

The exam consists of 175 multiple choice questions and the time allotted for the exam is four (4) hours.

If I don't pass the exam, how soon can I reapply?

If your results indicate that you did not pass, you may submit a First Time Re-Examination Application after 30 days. Note that a candidate who does not pass the examination has ONE YEAR in which to retake the exam with the shortened First Time Re-Examination Application.

How many continuing educations hours are required for eligibility to take the Gerontological Specialist certification exam?

For Initial Certification, the applicant must have completed fifty (50) contact hours of approved continuing education in gerontology within 3 years prior to submitting the exam application. Continuing education hours must be accredited by a provider of approver of continuing nursing education, or medical education, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), a state board of nursing, nursing association, Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), or American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Continuing education contact hours include online or on-campus coursework, attending conferences, lectures, etc., where the applicant is the learner. Alternatively, precepting hours, writing entries or articles for publications, giving presentations or lectures, etc., are considered professional contact hours.

For recertification by continuing education, you will need at least eighty (80) NCPD/CNE contact hours to meet recertification requirements. A minimum of fifty (50) of those hours must be gerontological health care specific topics. The remaining thirty (30) hours may be general nursing, health care, and academic.

For recertification by examination, proof of NCPD/CNE contact hours is not required.

Can I recertify without NCPD hours?

Yes, you can recertify by examination if you do not have the applicable NCPD/CNE contact hours. You will still need to provide proof of professional practice hours or professional activity hours of equivalence to recertify through examination.

Can contact hours provided by my hospital count?

If your hospital is accredited by an approved provider, you can claim the contact hour.

The program I am looking at to earn my 50 contact hours only partly pertains to gerontology. Would that count toward my 50 contact hours?

The candidate may submit NCPD contact hours for partial credit. It is the candidate’s responsibility to determine the portion of the NCPD contact hour’s content that was related to gerontology or applicable to gerontological populations. The candidate may also submit the course's objectives and content outline for a determination on a case-by-case basis by the GNCC Board of Directors.

My practice is a mixture of patients from all age groups. Can I count all the hours for my practice hour requirement?

No, you cannot count ALL your practice hours in this case; however, you may count the hours and portions of your time working with gerontology patients. This will be verified with your supervisor.

I have more than the 50 required contact hours, should I include them?

For initial certification, it is not necessary to include anything over 50 contact hours. For recertification, 80 total contact hours are required, with a minimum of 50 contact hours specific to gerontology. It is suggested that you limit additional contact hours to 5.

Do you want copies of my contact hour (NCPD/CNE) certificates?

No, do not send copies of your NCPD/CNE certificates when you submit your application. Just send your application and contact hour documentation forms. If your application is selected for random audit, copies of your certificates will be requested at that time.

How do I know if contact hours are from an approved provider?

An accreditation statement may be present on your NCPD certificates or in the educational activity's description. You may also contact the provider of the educational activity to verify accreditation.

Once I am certified, what additional privileges does the GS-C certification grant me?

GS-C certification does not grant any additional privileges or responsibilities above your basic license. It is a testimony to your hard work, knowledge, experience and expertise with gerontology patients and managing the complex health needs of older adults.

How do I sign my name once I become certified? Is there a standard way that is recommended?

Yes, there is a standard way to list credentials after your name. Academic degrees are listed first because they are earned, are considered permanent. Nurse Practitioners are licensed by the State Boards of Nursing. National certifications are usually voluntary. When you become certified by GNCC, you should use the credentials GS-C to indicate your certification.

How long is my GS-C certification valid?

The GS-C credential is valid for five (5) years. Recertification is available by exam or by continuing education. For recertification, the applicant will have eighty (80) contact hours of approved continuing education specific to gerontology within the 5 years of certification prior to recertification.

What would happen if I let my certification lapse?

You lose your right to use the credential. And you must take the certification exam again in order to gain GNCC certification.

Can I or my employer verify my certification status?

Yes. GNCC certification status can be verified online via the GNCC Certificant Directory. However, all application information is considered confidential and is not shared with any outside party. It is used only by C-NET and GNCC for certification processing purposes. Information concerning any candidate for certification is released only upon written request of the certification applicant.

What should I do if my contact information changes?

It is the professional responsibility of the applicant to notify GNCC of any name, address, phone numbers and/or e-mail change. You can make these changes to your online profile at www.gerocert.org after you log in with your username and password. If you already have an established online account with GAPNA, all changes made to your profile will be reflected in your GNCC certification record.

When do I need to recertify for my GS-C certification?

You can apply to recertify a maximum of 6 months prior to the expiration date of your 5-year certification period. You have a grace period of 30 days to recertify after the expiration date of your 5-year certification period. After that time, you will lose your GS-C certification and will need to begin an initial certification exam application.

What is the difference between recertifying by exam and recertifying by continuing education?

Both methods of recertification provide you with the same result. The cost of recertifying by exam is $295, while the cost of recertifying by continuing education is $275.

How soon can I enter my contact hour information?

You can enter continuing education contact hour information into the testing agency’s recertification portal at any time; however, you will not be allowed to submit the information until a minimum of 6 months prior to your certification expiration date. You may save your progress and return at a later time.

How late can I send in my recertification application?

You have until your expiration date to submit your recertification application. However, it is recommended that you send the application at least 30 days before the expiration date.  Application processing requires 4 weeks to complete.

Can I request an extension for recertification?

Yes, GNCC will accept late recertification applications. The recertification application received within 30 days after the certification expiration date will be charged a late fee.