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To develop a practitioner-led description of gerontological nursing and articulate the principles which underpin its practice.As the population ages expertise in gerontological nursing will become increasingly important. However, a complete and widely accepted delineation of the rationale, philosophy, knowledge base and special skills for gerontological nursing is yet to be developed.As one cycle of a larger action research project informed by realistic evaluation, a representative sample of 30 Scottish nurses worked together as a Community of Practice to develop a description of gerontological nursing that would have utility in their practice and in the development of best practice care guidance. Data collection involved group interviews and records of on-line discussions. Data were analysed using content analysis. The emerging description was verified through external consultation with other nursing colleagues and older people.Nursing older people within Scotland was perceived as low status and participants reported that a positive reframing of gerontological nursing was needed. A description and underlying principles were developed by nurses and used as a lens to shape best practice statements. The description embraces a person-centred and enabling approach to evidenced-based gerontological nursing.Gerontological practice requires an accessible consensus view and description to support its development. Practising nurses developed such a view and its utility has been seen in the development of best practice statements.The description and principles of gerontological nursing can be used to guide nursing practice, practice development and research.