Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (AG CNS)


Due in large part to the aging population, health care providers have become increasingly aware of the complex needs of older adults-and of the need for more gerontological advanced practice nurses to keep pace with the growing need. Adult-Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialists care for patients in a variety of settings, including Adult Day Health Care facilities, home health agencies, hospitals, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, long-term care facilities, or outpatient medical practices. Some adult-gerontology nurse specialists also work in research, administration, and education; others pursue an entrepreneurial path by becoming case managers or consultants. The primary faculty contact for AG CNS is Lynda Mackin (

Academic Program

This specialty area seeks to develop outstanding clinicians and leaders in the field of geriatric care. As students earn master's degrees, they complete coursework geared to becoming either a clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner, and gain clinical experience with older adult patients across a broad range of settings and clinical complexity.

Nationally recognized faculty members serve as mentors and individual academic advisers. Part of the faculty role is to arrange clinical training assignments in hospitals, community care sites, home health agencies, public and government clinics, long-term care facilities, HMO-operated facilities and private practices.

All students complete courses in advanced health assessment, pathophysiology, nursing theory, pharmacology, research, management of common older adult disorders, and comprehensive case analysis.

To support working nurses and family life, courses typically are concentrated on campus on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. During the first year students also spend one day per week practicing new skills in the clinical setting.

During the second year, classes remain primarily on Tuesdays and Wednesday, but most students are also in the clinical training setting two full days per week. Presently, there are a limited number of courses available in a distance-learning format. Opportunities to participate in faculty members' research projects or train alongside program faculty members are frequently available.

Clinical Experience

Prior to entering this program at UCSF, students must have one year or more of relevant clinical experience / employment as a registered nurse.

Master's Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN)

MEPN students are admissible to the AGCNS-ONC specialty area under the following stipulation. Following the completion of their first (pre-licensure) MEPN year, students must complete a year of relevant clinical nursing experience / employment BEFORE beginning their studies in the AGCNS-ONC curriculum for their second and third academic years.

Certification Eligibility

Clinical Nurse Specialist graduates are eligible for certification as a CNS through the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN); no examination required. Additional certifications are available through the American Nurses' Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Assoc. of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) web sites.

Post-Master's Options and Certification

Post-Master's Coordinator - Rosalie Bravo, RN, MS, ACNP;  (email).

This option is designed for nurses who already have a Master's degree in nursing and desire additional training in the specialty area of adult-gerontology nursing at the advanced practice level.

Note: Retiring GNP Certification: the American Nurses Credentialing Corporation (ANCC) will offer a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (GNP) board certification examination through 2014 only. After 2014, the ANCC GNP board certification exam will be retired.

Post Master's Certification options are designed for nurse practitioners who already hold a board certification as an Adult Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gero. NP,  or Family NP, and who want to deepen their knowledge and skill in caring for older adults. The length of the Post Master's Certification Program depends upon prior course work, but can usually be completed in 4 quarters or less; this would include 540 hours of clinical practice while enrolled.

Courses needed for certification eligibility are determined through faculty analysis of prior transcripts. The number of admissions is limited and determined by the availability of faculty resources.

Please refer to the Post-Master's web page for general program information, and link to the on-line application for the appropriate Post-Master's program option. Please email Lynda Mackin ( if you have additional questions about the Adult-Gerontology CNS curriculum.

If you have questions regarding the general Post-Master's application process please contact Rosalie Bravo (email).