AG-ACNP Career Overview
- What You Will Do: Assess and diagnose acutely ill patients, provide education, discharge patients, prescribe medication, perform minor surgical procedures, and more
- Where Will You Work: Hospitals, specialty labs, sub-acute wards in hospitals, emergency departments, intensive care units
- Employment Projections: NP roles are projected to grow 31 percent from 2016 to 2026.
- How Much Will I Earn: Salary for Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners (AG-ACNPs) ranges from about $82,000 to $120,000.
- Number of Programs: There are 85 AG-ACNP programs in the U.S.
- How Long Does It Take to Become an AG-ACNP: 2 to 3 years in a master’s program is required to become an AG-ACNP.
- Requirements to Become One: Becoming and AG-ACNP requires and RN and NP license as well as a bachelor’s degree and master’s in nursing. Some programs require prior acute care RN experience.
Eight Steps to Become an Adult- Gerontology Acute Care NP
- Earn Your RN – You have to get an RN or BSN through an ACEN or CCNE accredited university first. Use our BSN guide to help you figure it out!
- Pass The NCLEX-RN Exam – Our NCLEX-RN guide and practice exams will prepare you to pass the NCLEX.
- Earn Your MSN – During your NP program you will need courses in nursing theory, pharmacology, advanced health assessment, research, and more.
- Complete Supervised Clinical Hours – 500 supervised clinical hours through your NP program is required to become an AG-ACNP.
- Become Board Certified – You must pass the AG-ACNP exam given by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN).
- Obtain Licensure – State licensure through your state’s board of nursing (BON) is required.
- Obtain a DEA Number – You must apply for DEA registration in order to prescribe medications.
- Maintain Active Certification and Licensure – AG-ACNPs are required to have 100 continuing education (CE) hours and 1,000 hours of clinical practice to stayed certified through the ANCC. There are 3 ways to renew certification through the AACN. Your BLS, DEA, and RN licenses must also stay active.
What is an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner?
An AG-ACNP is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) that helps manage patients who are acutely ill in inpatient hospital environments as well as hospital-clinic environments. As an AG-ACNP you will diagnose and treat acutely ill patients and follow them as they move from inpatient to outpatient environments. You will monitor patient progress, collect medical histories, perform exams, and refer patients. You will work as a part of a larger healthcare team that will include physicians, nurses, laboratory personnel and more. Find our guide to the related Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner career.
How Do I Become an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner?
You will need to earn a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in nursing to become an AG-ACNP. If you are not yet an RN, there are still options for you to become one and then become and AG-ACNP.
- BSN to MSN: BSN to MSN programs typically take 2 years.
- Bachelors to MSN: If you are not a nurse a Direct Entry Master’s in Nursing program may be the path for you. These programs prepare non-nurses to become NPs. You will earn your RN in the process. Pre-requisite courses are usually required for entry. Some of these courses will include anatomy and physiology, developmental psychology, microbiology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. Direct Entry programs take about 2 to 3 years.
- BSN to DNP: During your doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) education you will also earn your MSN. A DNP program will take about 4 years and will prepare you to integrate research into your practice.
- MSN to DNP: Getting a DNP will take around 2 to 3 years if you already have your MSN.
Certification and Licensure: Getting certified through the ANCC or AACN proves that you have met the requirements to provide care for acutely ill adult patients. Every 5 years you will have to renew your certification through the ANCC by meeting the 1,000 clinical hour requirement along with the 100 hours of CEs. If certified through the AACN you can renew certification in one of 3 ways:
- Re-taking the initial exam and earning 150 CE points through their program
- Meeting the 1,000 clinical hour requirements and 150 CE points requirements
- Meeting the 1,000 clinical hour requirements, taking the exam, and obtaining 25 CE points in pharmacology.
Once certified, you can submit your transcripts, RN licensure, proof of national certification, and a fee to obtain state licensure through your board of nursing (BON).
Where Do AG-ACNPs Typically Work?
There are a variety of acute care settings in which you can work. You can work in inpatient hospital settings, emergency departments, intensive care units, specialty clinics, and more.
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners Salary
The median salary for all NPs is $104,610 according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. AG-ACNPs have a competitive salary range and can make anywhere from $82,000 to $120,000 per year. The amount you will make will depend on the setting, city, and state you work in as well as how much experience you have. NPs who work in private clinics are more likely to have a higher salary than NPs who work in medically underserved areas, however there are added financial benefits to working with the medically underserved population. There are a few loan forgiveness programs for people working in these areas that can help you pay off your debt from nursing school. The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program are two examples. If you took out a Perkins Loan, you may also be eligible for Perkins Loan forgiveness as well. Check out our state by state guides to see what benefits your state may offer you.
Online AG-ACNP Programs
Many people do not think that they have the time or flexibility to get an advanced degree. Luckily with nursing, this is not the case. With online nursing programs, aspiring NPs now have the option to pursue their dreams while keeping up with their personal and professional commitments. Online AG-ACNP programs make it possible to do coursework from your computer and complete your clinical hours in a location close to home. You may only have to report to campus a couple times a year if at all. There are 4 fully online AG-ACNP master’s programs, as well as some hybrid programs.
What is a Typical AG-ACNP Curriculum?
Curriculums for AG-ACNP programs can vary, but in general you can expect to be taking courses similar to what is offered at Vanderbilt University:
- Research Methods for Advanced Practice Nursing
- Advanced Pharmacology
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Practicum
- Advanced Pathophysiology
- Pathophysiology and Collaborative Management in Acute Care
- Advanced Health Assessment
The Role of the AG-ACNP in the Healthcare Provider Shortage
With the shortage of healthcare providers and increase in insured patients due to the Affordable Care Act there is a growing need for midlevel providers. AG-ACNPs provide a cost effective way of increasing the number of high quality acute care providers for patients. AG-ACNPs are able to function independently while also working as a part of larger healthcare team. This can help more patients receive the care that they require for their acute illnesses and ultimately decrease long-term healthcare costs.
Number of AG-ACNP Programs in the United States
In the U.S. there are 4 fully online AG-ACNP programs that are offered at the University of South Alabama, Walden University, Thomas Jefferson University, and the University of Texas-El Paso.
Denisco, S. M., Barker, A. M., (2016). Advanced practice nursing: Essential knowledge for the profession. Burlington, MA: Jones and Barlett Learning.