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Best Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) Programs – 2021


An Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) is a highly-educated nurse who provides care to pediatric, adult, or gerontology patients in hospital settings. As an ACNP, you will spend much of your time assessing and treating patients with various acute and chronic conditions. ACNPs are in high demand and, as a result, earn a handsome salary of roughly $114,360 a year. Here, we have ranked the 10 best acute care nurse practitioner programs in the country to help you make the right choices regarding your future education and career.


Degree Options Available to Become an ACNP


1. Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Program Cost: The full costs associated with completing an MSN program to become an ACNP range from $9,720 to $91,760 depending on the school and program type you choose.

Program Length: You can expect on-campus, hybrid, or online ACNP programs to take you anywhere from 18 months to four years to complete depending on your current level of education.

Curriculum: An ACNP program’s curriculum will help you learn to diagnose patients with acute and chronic illnesses, provide in-depth knowledge of pathophysiology and the management of complex health issues, and learn to better understand the differences between the different aspects of numerous illnesses so that you can manage them more effectively. Unpaid clinical training is also likely, though each state has varying requirements.

2. Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


Program Cost: A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree costs anywhere from $14,480 to $135,520 depending on the school you choose, your state, and the courses you need to take.

Program Length: DNP programs vary drastically in length depending on the format you choose and the degree you might already have. On average, it takes anywhere from three to six years to complete a DNP program.

Curriculum: The DNP program curriculum is designed to provide you with exceptional knowledge in acute care, hospital-based medical and surgical ICU care, and various specialty services allowing you to further hone your career. You will also learn to use a variety of different medical and life support devices for the purpose of treating and diagnosing individuals, families, and entire communities. You will also be required to participate in unpaid clinicals during which you will work with patients under the supervision of a licensed ACNP or physician to evaluate your ability to provide patient care.



FOLLOWING ARE THE 10 BEST ACUTE CARE NURSE PRACTITIONER PROGRAMS - 2021


1) Rush University - Chicago, IL


Programs Offered: DNP, Post-Graduate Certificate, and Postdoctoral Certificate

DNP Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Post-Graduate Certificate Concentrations: Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Post-Doctoral Certificate Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care



2) Columbia University - New York City, NY


Programs Offered: Post-BS DNP

Post-BSN to DNP Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner



3) Duke University School of Nursing - Durham, NC


Programs Offered: MSN, BSN to DNP, and Post-Graduate Certificate

MSN Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care

BSN to DNP Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care

Post-Graduate Certificate Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care



4) The University of Iowa - Iowa City, IA


Programs Offered: BSN to DNP, MSN to DNP, and Post-Graduate Certificate

BSN to DNP Concentrations: Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Acute Care, and Dual (Adult Gerontology Acute Care/Psych Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Primary and Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Family/Adult Gero Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Family/Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, & Pediatric Primary and Acute Care Nurse Practitioner)

MSN to DNP Concentrations: Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (Post MSN/NP) and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Acute Care (Post MSN/NP)

Post-Graduate Certificate Concentrations: Adult/Gero - Acute Care Certificate and Pediatric - Acute Care Certificate



5) University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing - Philadelphia, PA


Programs Offered: MSN and Post-Graduate APRN Certificate

MSN Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care and Pediatric Acute Care

Post-Graduate APRN Certificate Concentrations: Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner



6) University of South Alabama - Mobile, AL


Programs Offered: MSN, BSN to DNP, MSN to DNP (MSN to DNP for Advanced Nursing Practice Roles & MSN to DNP for adding a new Specialty Certification Area), and Post-Graduate Certificate

MSN Concentrations: Adult-Gerontological Acute Care NP, Dual Role (Family NP/Adult-Gerontological Acute Care NP), and Pediatric Acute Care NP

BSN to DNP Concentrations: Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Dual Role (Family NP/Adult-Gerontological Acute Care NP), and Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

MSN to DNP Concentrations: Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Dual Role (Family NP/Adult-Gerontological Acute Care NP), and Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Post-Graduate Certificate Concentrations: Adult-Gerontological Acute Care NP, Dual Role (Family NP/Adult-Gerontological Acute Care NP), and Pediatric Acute Care NP



7) Drexel University - Philadelphia, PA


Programs Offered: MSN and Post-Master's Certificate

MSN Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, and Pediatric Primary/Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Dual Program 

Post-Master's Certificate Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, and Pediatric Primary Care & Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner



8) University of Miami - Coral Gables, FL


Programs Offered: MSN and Post-Master's Certificate

MSN Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP

Post-Master's Certificate Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner



9) University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, MI


Programs Offered: MSN, BSN to DNP, and Post-Master's Advanced Practice Certificate

MSN Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

BSN to DNP Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Post-Master's Advanced Practice Certificate Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP and Acute Care Pediatric NP



10. University of Maryland - Baltimore, MD


Programs Offered: DNP and Post-Doctoral Certificate

DNP Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Post-Doctoral Certificate Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner




ACNP Board Certification


In order to legally work as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, you will need to acquire the proper board certifications after completing your ACNP program of choice. There are two different certifications available to you. The first is the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (AGACNP-BC) issued by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). It is ideal for ACNPs who want to work exclusively with adults and the elderly.

You can also obtain the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Adult/Gerontology (ACNPC-AG) credential from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN). This credential is ideal for ACNPs who are interested in working with adults or the elderly primarily in trauma centers, emergency rooms, and urgent care centers.

CertificationCertifying BodyLink
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (AGACNP-BC) American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)https://www.nursingworld.org/our-certifications/adult-gerontology-acute-care-nurse-practitioner/
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner-Adult/Gero (ACNPC-AG)American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)https://www.aacn.org/certification/get-certified/acnpc-ag


What does an ACNP Do?


Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: An Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP) provides enhanced care to adults who have various conditions. You will need to collect and analyze information you collect from these patients to diagnose and treat them. You may also need to develop long-term care plans for your patients depending on their unique conditions. You will also work with doctors and nurses to stabilize your patients and improve their health.

Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner: An Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (AC-PNP) provides care to children who have complex and often difficult acute, critical, and chronic illnesses. ACNP duties may include working with premature infants in the NICU, and you may also work with teenagers who have cancer, severe injuries, or chronic illnesses. To perform your duties properly, you must learn to work well with a team of healthcare providers in addition to your patients’ families. Most AC-PNPs across the US work in emergency rooms, critical care units, inpatient settings, and specialty clinics such as cancer clinics.

Specialty Acute Care Nurse Practitioner A Specialty Acute Care Nurse Practitioner is a subspecialty that allows individuals to have an even greater knowledge of a specific field of care. ACNPs can focus on various specialties, including women’s health, gender-related medical care, psychiatric care, cardiology, nephrology, plastic surgery, and numerous others. Though choosing such a specialty may limit your employment options to a degree, it can also boost your salary significantly depending on factors like your location and the demand for your specialty of choice.


ACNP Scope of Practice


Your scope of practice as an ACNP will vary a great deal depending upon the state in which you live, the specialization you choose, and whether you chose to pursue a masters or doctorate degree. Your duties will include obtaining consent for surgeries and procedures, writing pre-admission orders for your patients, prescribing various drugs and monitoring your patients’ responses to them, discharging patients and providing prescription medications to be taken at home, prescribing various therapies, working to evaluate and diagnose patients alongside a physician, and providing your patients with long-term care.


Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Salary


The average acute care nurse practitioner salary is $114,360 a year, which equals $54.98 an hour or $9,530 a month. Many ACNPs earn salaries that compete with primary care physicians’ salaries. Other factors that may influence your salary include your level of education (MSN vs DNP), the facility in which you work, and the state in which you work. ACNPs who work in busy metro areas tend to earn more than their more rural counterparts, and those who work in very busy critical care or trauma settings tend to earn more than those who work in general inpatient care settings, as well.

TypeSalary
Hourly$54.98
Monthly$9,530
Annual$114,360


ACNP Job Outlook


The demand for nurse practitioners is expected to soar between the years of 2016 and 2026, and the demand for ACNPs is expected to follow this trend. As of 2016, there were 155,500 nurse practitioners (FNPs, ACNPs, and others) employed across the country, and by 2026, there will be 211,600. The addition of more than 56,100 nurse practitioners to the American healthcare industry represents a tremendous growth of 36%, which will be driven by numerous factors. Of these, the growing population over the next several years – and that population’s access to more affordable healthcare – will be the primary driving factors behind the growth.



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