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Best Online BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs For 2021


Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

Are you a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree in nursing considering pursuing a doctoral degree? Do you enjoy working as part of an interdisciplinary team and work well under pressure? If this sounds like you, the BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs online featured in this article could be the opportunity you have been looking for. Acute care nurse practitioners collaborate with other healthcare providers to offer comprehensive healthcare to acutely or critically ill clients. Some of the best online BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs for 2021 offer Adult-Gerontology, Pediatric, or Dual degree programs, which means you have lots of choices.


What Exactly Is A BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program?


BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs offer baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses the opportunity to pursue a doctoral degree in nursing and become nurse practitioners specializing in acute nursing care. These programs prepare students to provide evidence-based nursing care to adult-gerontology or pediatric patients with critical, acute, or clinically complex health conditions. Students enrolled in these programs learn doctoral nursing competencies, including systems-level thinking, implementation and evaluation of evidence, quality care, and safety, and how to develop meaningful interventions that improve patient outcomes.


Which Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program Should You Choose: BSN-to-DNP Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program OR BSN-to-DNP Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program?


There are many options for online BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs. Once you have decided to pursue a degree through one of these programs, it is now time to determine what program is best suited for you. The patient population you prefer to service is the main thing to consider as you research programs. If you choose to work with adults or elderly clients, the BSN-to-DNP Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner option is a great choice. On the other hand, if you prefer to dedicate your time to caring for infants and children, the Pediatric Acute Care BSN-to-DNP Nurse Practitioner program could be a better fit.


How Long Are Online BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs?


Students enrolled in BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs online can typically graduate in three or four years. However, that is not to say that all students will. There may be circumstances when a student needs to take a semester or longer off from school or repeat coursework, which can prolong program length. Some schools limit the maximum amount of time students can take to complete a program. Therefore, it is a good idea to discuss program plans and estimated dates of completion with an academic advisor at any school you are considering attending. The following paragraphs provide information about some of the programs featured in this article and how long students may take to complete them.

The acute care doctorate track at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) includes a combination of advanced practice core content, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner specialty courses, and DNP core classes. Graduates of the program are eligible for national certification as an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. Students complete the program in as few as three years of full-time study.

Georgetown University’s online BSN-to-DNP online Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program includes sixty-nine to seventy-four credit hours of coursework, clinical intensives, and 1,000 to 1,200 clinical hours. The program can be completed in thirty-three months.

The University of Florida offers accredited BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner online programs with specialty options in Adult-Gerontology, Pediatrics, and Dual Pediatric Acute and Primary Care. The Adult-Gerontology and Pediatric Acute Care NP programs consist of seventy-six credit hours, including 1,008 hours of clinical practicum, and offer three- and four-year options. The Dual Pediatric Acute and Primary Care NP program includes ninety-three credit hours and 1,392 clinical hours and can be completed in three and a half to four and a half years.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center offers Pediatric Primary and Acute Care Dual Nurse Practitioner and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs. Although doctoral degrees at the university must be completed in seven years or less, most students graduate in three to four years, depending on whether they enroll part-time or full-time.


How Much Do Online BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs Cost?


Pursuing a doctoral nursing degree is a significant career move. One of the most critical factors that affect prospective students' decisions about going back to school is the cost of the programs that interest them. Online BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs can cost anywhere from $55,000 to over $200,000. Below are a few examples of some featured programs and information about their costs.

Johns Hopkins University offers an Adult Gerontological Acute Care NP-DNP program and a DNP Advanced Track Pediatric Dual Primary/Acute Care NP program. The Adult Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program includes seventy-eight credits, including 784 acute care clinical hours and 224 DNP clinical practice hours. The university also offers a DNP Advanced Practice Track: Pediatric Dual Primary/Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program. The dual pediatric program consists of eighty-eight credits and 784 clinical hours, and 224 project practice hours. Tuition for the four-year programs is calculated at a rate of $50,634 annually, totaling $202,540. Students are also responsible for a one-time health fee of $849 and a matriculation fee of $500. Although participation in the school's health insurance plan ($4,357) is optional, all students must have health insurance. Other expenses students may incur include books, supplies, uniforms, and travel to and from clinical sites.

Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies offers an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program that combines synchronous class sessions, asynchronous didactic content, and in-person Objective Clinical Intensives. The program is designed for registered nurses with at least one year of full-time nursing experience in an emergency department, intensive care, progressive care, or telemetry unit. Students complete sixty-nine to seventy-four credit hours at a rate of $2,278 per credit hour. Depending on the number of credits needed and excluding other fees or expenses, tuition averages $157,182 to $168,572.

At the University of Maryland, students in the online BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs may choose the DNP: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner/Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist dual degree or the Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program. Graduates of the Adult-Gerontology ACNP/Adult-Gerontology CNS program are eligible to take both the Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist certification exam and the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner certification exam. Pediatric AC-NP DNP students are eligible for the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Acute Care examination administered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board after graduating. Each program includes approximately eighty credit hours, including 1,080 hours of clinicals. The university assesses tuition fees at an in-state rate of $824 per credit and $1,461 per credit for out-of-state students. Students who complete the maximum eighty hours pay tuition of $65,920 to $116,880, depending on whether they live in-state or out-of-state.


Coursework


The curriculum for accredited BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs online typically includes core coursework and specialty-focused classes as well as clinical rotations relevant to the student’s specialty focus.

Core coursework for these programs includes Advanced Health Assessment, Advanced Pathophysiology, Advanced Pharmacology, and Health Promotion, Prevention, and Common Health Problems. Specialty courses include Common and Comorbid Health Problems (Adult-Gerontology or Pediatrics), Advanced Healthcare Management (Adult-Gerontology or Pediatric), and Advanced Clinical Management for Advanced Practice Nursing.

The following are examples of some of the classes students enrolled in some of our featured online BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs may take.

At Duke University, students can choose from Adult-Gerontology and Pediatric accredited BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner online programs. Each program is formatted to award graduates upon completion with both a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Students admitted to the BSN-to-DNP program choose which specialty they wish to pursue, and after previous coursework is evaluated for possible credit, a plan of study is developed tailored to the student.

The curriculum for both the Pediatric and Adult-Gerontology BSN-to-DNP Acute Care NP pathways require students to complete at least seventy-four credit hours and at least 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical hours.

Sample Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Coursework:

◦ Advanced Practice Nursing Care in Older Adult Patients
◦ Advanced Practice Nursing in Acutely Ill Adult-Gerontology Patients I, II, and III (These courses are each followed by clinical components. After completing all three, students will have earned 672 clinical hours.)
◦ Nurse as Scholar I: Science Development, Study Design, and Statistics
◦ Nurse as Scholar II: Evidence-Based Practice
◦ Population Health in a Global Society

Sample Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Coursework:

◦ Professional Transitions: Advanced Nursing Practice
◦ Advanced Physiology/Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan: A Conceptual Approach
◦ Advanced Nursing Practice: Pediatric Primary Care Essentials (Followed by 56 clinical practice hours)
◦ Advanced Practice Nursing in Acute Care Pediatrics I and II (Followed by a total of 168 clinical practice hours)
◦ Physical Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning in Advanced Practice Nursing

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is home to one of the best BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs online. The university offers the option for baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses to earn a DNP with Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) specialization. The program structure is designed for students to complete Adult Geriatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and core DNP coursework first. After completing the AGACNP and core DNP classes, students transition into DNP-specific practice courses.

Sample AGACNP Coursework:

◦ Pathophysiology and Collaborative Management in Acute Care for the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner I, II, and III
◦ Epidemiology and Population Health
◦ Advanced Health Assessment Applications for the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
◦ Informatics for Scholarly Practice
◦ Management of Organizations and Systems

The University of Tennessee Health Science Centers offers Adult-Gerontology and Pediatric online BSN-to-DNP ACNP programs. Students are prepared to provide evidence-based, patient-centered care to clients in their specialty population foci. Patients requiring acute care typically experience physiological instability, are highly vulnerable to complications, and frequent monitoring and/or intervention. Both programs include fifty-nine credit hours of coursework and at least 1,020 clinical practice hours.

Sample Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Coursework:

◦ Leadership and Health Policy
◦ Advanced Gerontology Acute Care Advanced Nursing Practice
◦ Diagnostic Reasoning for the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
◦ Adult-Gerontology Advanced Critical Care
◦ Professional Strategies of Adult Geriatric Acute Care Advanced Practice

Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Sample Courses:

◦ Advanced Health Assessment and Diagnosis
◦ Advanced Acute Care Pediatrics I, II, and III (Each of these classes has a corresponding practicum.)
◦ Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Pediatrics
◦ Philosophy of Science and Theory in Nursing
◦ Advanced Clinical Pathophysiology


Clinical Training


One of the most significant parts of any nursing program, including the best BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs online, is the clinical component. The clinical training students experience provides an opportunity to gain hands-on experience while learning from experienced professionals in the field. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommends all DNP students should have at least 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical practice hours to meet DNP competencies.

Although some colleges or universities may incorporate more than 1,000 clinical hours in their programs, it is unlikely that a BSN-to-DNP program will allow less than that. The following are examples of clinical training requirements at some of the programs mentioned in this article.

Rush University offers Pediatric and Adult-Gerontology accredited BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner online programs. Registered nurses who have achieved a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and have at least six months of acute care experience are eligible to apply for admission. After acceptance to the program, students must achieve at least two years of full-time acute care experience before beginning management and clinical course rotations. Both pathways require students to complete at least 1,008 clinical practice hours, including clinical practice, a full-time residency in the last term, DNP practice hours, and residency immersion hours.

The University of Illinois at Chicago prepares students in its Adult-Gerontology and Pediatric BSN-to-DNP ACNP online programs to provide advanced nursing care by applying knowledge and skills targeted for patients with complex health situations. The Adult-Gerontology path requires students to accomplish seventy-seven credit hours of coursework, and the Pediatric path requires eighty-one credit hours. Students in both pathways complete the program with a minimum of 1,000 clinical hours, including 675 in their clinical specialty.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, post-baccalaureate RNs in the BSN-to-DNP Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program complete a minimum of seventy-one credits, including at least 1,000 clinical practice hours. Clinical hours are divided into two five-hundred-hour categories: clinical practice and clinical leadership. The School of Nursing arranges all clinical placement but takes student requests for placement near their home community into consideration.


Admission Requirements


Colleges and universities reserve the right to establish admission criteria for any programs they offer. While some nursing schools may have different requirements, accredited BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner online programs typically have similar general admissions standards. Most programs require applicants to meet the following criteria.

◦ Hold an accredited Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree
◦ Possess an active, unrestricted license to practice as a registered nurse
◦ Submit to a criminal background check
◦ Pass a drug test
◦ Provide professional letters of recommendation
◦ Submit official transcripts from any post-secondary school previously attended


The following are examples of admission criteria for some of the featured online BSN-to-DNP ACNP programs from this article. Please note, these lists are not inclusive of all requirements. Applicants should get a list of admission requirements from any school to which they plan to apply.

The University of Kentucky offers BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs online that can be completed in three years of full-time study. Part-time options are also available and typically take five years to complete. Admission criteria for both the Adult-Gerontology and Pediatric BSN-to-DNP programs are the same.

Admission Requirements:

◦ Undergraduate grade-point-average of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale
◦ Baccalaureate degree in nursing from an NLN or CCNE accredited nursing program
◦ Have documented clinical nursing experience before beginning the DNP clinical course
◦ Submit a Goal Statement that discusses the reasons for seeking doctoral study, including short-term and long-term goals.
◦ Provide an example of scholarly written work related to nursing that demonstrates excellence in writing skills and clear, logical communication skills

At the University of Iowa, applicants to the BSN-to-DNP program can choose the Adult-Gerontology or Pediatric pathway of study. Both program options offer three- and four-year study plans. Students are educating using didactic and clinical experiences to help them successfully transition into doctoral-level nursing practice roles.

Admission Requirements:

◦ Minimum 3.0-grade point average on all undergraduate coursework
◦ Graduate from an NLNAC or CCNE accredited nursing program
◦ Submit a Statement of Purpose
◦ Provide professional resume
◦ Complete an upper-level statistics course within five years of the application deadline

The BSN-to-DNP Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP program at the University of Arizona prepares students to work with adult clients eighteen years of age and older. The hybrid program combines online didactic coursework with in-person clinical practice hours and on-campus incentives. Graduates of the program are eligible for Nurse Practitioner certification through the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Admission Requirements:

◦ Possess a BSN degree from a regionally accredited school of nursing
◦ Have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 for all undergraduate coursework
◦ Submit two letters of professional recommendation
◦ Provide official transcripts from all post-secondary schools (even if a degree was not obtained)
◦ Submit a current professional resume or curriculum vitae



FOLLOWING ARE THE 25 BEST ONLINE BSN-TO-DNP ACUTE CARE NURSE PRACTITIONER PROGRAMS IN THE NATION FOR 2021


1. Duke University - Durham, NC

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

2. Vanderbilt University - Nashville, TN

Concentrations Offered: Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)

3. University of Alabama at Birmingham - Birmingham, AL

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

4. Rush University Medical Center - Chicago, IL

Concentrations Offered: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (NP) and Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (NP)

5. Johns Hopkins University - Baltimore, MD

Concentrations Offered: Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Pediatric Dual Primary/Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

6. University of Illinois at Chicago - Chicago, IL

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

7. University of Kentucky - Lexington, KY

Concentrations Offered: Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

8. University of Iowa - Iowa City, IA

Concentrations Offered: Adult/Gerontology Nurse Practitioner - Acute Care and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Acute Care

9. Oregon Health and Science University - Portland, OR

Concentrations Offered: Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (Adult Gerontology)

10. Georgetown University - Washington, DC

Concentrations Offered: Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP)

11.University of Tennessee Health Science Center - Memphis, TN

Concentrations Offered: Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

12. University of Arizona - Tucson, AZ

Concentrations Offered: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

13. University of Maryland - Baltimore, MD

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

14. University of Wisconsin-Madison - Madison, WI

Concentrations Offered: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

15. University of Florida - Gainesville, FL

Concentrations Offered: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner , Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Dual Pediatric Acute and Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

16. University of Nebraska Medical Center - Omaha, NE

Concentrations Offered: Pediatric Primary & Acute Care (Dual) Nurse Practitioner and Adult-Gerontology Acute Nurse Practitioner

17. University of Connecticut - Storrs, CT

Concentrations Offered: Adult-Gero Nurse Practitioner: Acute Care

18. Wayne State University - Detroit, MI

Concentrations Offered: Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner - Acute Care (AGNP-AC) and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Acute Care (PNP-AC)

19. University of Cincinnati - Cincinnati, OH

Concentrations Offered: Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

20. University of Tennessee-Knoxville - Knoxville, TN

Concentrations Offered: Acute and Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

21. Baylor University - Dallas, TX

Concentrations Offered: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

22. University of Central Florida - Orlando, FL

Concentrations Offered: Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

23. Texas Christian University - Fort Worth, TX

Concentrations Offered: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

24.University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston - Houston, TX

Concentrations Offered: Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

25. Augusta University - Augusta, GA

Concentrations Offered: Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

View Ranking Methodology



Career Opportunities After Graduating with This Degree


After completing their online BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner education, graduates have a wide variety of possible career opportunities. Adult-Gerontology and Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioners work in settings including emergency departments, urgent care clinics, intensive/critical care units, to name a few. The following are examples of some career opportunities graduates of these programs may find.

• Pediatric Acute Care Nursing Instructor: Responsibilities may include supervision of nursing students, participants in residencies and fellowships, participation in educational activities including didactic teaching, lecture series, presentation of patient cases, and quality reviews.
• Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit: Provides management, counseling, and education to patients and families related to pediatric heart health; uses data to develop, implement and evaluate patient care plans; applies evidence-based best nursing practices to improve patient outcomes.
• Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program Coordinator: Reviews and revises AG-ACNP curriculum and course materials, acts as a mentor to adjunct faculty, arranges clinical site contracts, and maintains communication with clinical affiliates to ensure proper student placement, accreditation actions, and program updates.
• Interventional Pulmonary Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: Functions in an interdependent role in collaboration with the interdisciplinary healthcare team, observes patients for signs and symptoms of pulmonary exacerbations, reactions to treatments, provides and coordinates the care of patients, and provides education to the clients and caregivers to promote safe continuity of care.


Earning Potential for Graduates of This Degree


Graduates of BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs online have excellent income earning potential. As reflected in the chart below, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NPs have an average yearly income of nearly $106,000, and Pediatric Acute Care NPs earn a little more than $103,000 annually. According to ZipRecruiter, some acute care nurse practitioners earn yearly salaries as high as $192,500 but may vary by as much as $45,000, depending on a few factors. The wide range of potential salaries indicates there are opportunities for advancement and increased pay based on the NP's geographical location, years of experience, and skill level.

Type AGACNP PNP-AC
Per Hour $50.91 $49.66
Per Month $8,830 $8,610
Per Year $105,902 $103,297
(Source: Ziprecruiter.com)


Job Outlook for Graduates of This Degree


According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), more than 325,000 nurse practitioners are licensed to practice in the United States. Of those practitioners, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NPs make up 2.9 percent or 9,425. Pediatric Acute Care NPs make up 0.7 percent, approximately 2,275. The current population in the United States is 328.2 million, 22.7 percent are aged 17 or younger, and the remaining 77.3 percent are eighteen or older.

These numbers may not seem relevant, but when comparing the population of these age groups with the number of licensed acute care nurse practitioners, it is quite staggering. There are approximately 32,748 children seventeen or younger for every Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and 26,918 people eighteen or older for every Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. These numbers are a strong indicator that the job outlook for graduates of BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs online is nothing short of very promising.


Bottomline


Registered nurses with a desire to provide comprehensive care to patients in acute settings have several options for continuing their education or choosing a specialty focus. The best BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs for 2021 offer excellent opportunities for registered nurses to reach a terminal degree in nursing and accomplish the goal of becoming an acute care nurse practitioner.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT


What things can affect the salary graduates of the BSN-to-DNP ACNP online programs may be offered?

Potential employers consider several factors when making an offer of employment and starting salary. Level of education, training, certification, years of experience, geographic location, the type of facility, and population foci are the most influential factors impacting salary offers.

Can students in online BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs get financial aid?

Absolutely! BSN-to-DNP Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs online can be costly. Don't worry, though. There are several forms of financial aid available. Federal grants and loans, personal or private loans, scholarships (need-based and merit-based), and employer-sponsored education programs are great ways to help offset the cost.


Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years' experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels.