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Best Online Post Master’s Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate Programs For 2021


Written By: Editorial Staff @ NursingProcess.org

Acute care nurse practitioners provide nursing care to patients with injuries and/or illnesses that develop suddenly and only last a few days or weeks. MSN- or DNP-prepared nurse practitioners who want to be credentialed as acute care providers can do so by enrolling in a post-master’s certificate acute care certificate program.

Most online post-master’s certificate acute care nurse practitioner programs are oriented toward gerontological care because aging has such a significant impact on the severity of acute illnesses. But children may be dramatically affected by acute illnesses as well, so the second-largest number of ACNP programs are oriented toward pediatric care. Keep reading to learn about the 10 best online post master’s acute care nurse practitioner certificate programs for 2021.


What Is The Main Purpose Of A Post Master’s Certificate Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program?


Online post master’s certificate acute care nurse practitioner programs offer a way for advanced practice nurses who did not specialize in acute care during their master’s or doctoral programs to acquire this new set of diagnostic and treatment skills. Programs like these are designed specifically for AP nurses who are already recognized leaders in clinical care and who are looking for ways to expand or change their roles.

Once you’ve finished your postgraduate certificate program successfully, you’ll be able to sit for either of the two adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner examinations offered respectively by the AANP and the ANCC, or for the pediatric acute care certification exam offered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. After you pass the exam, you’ll be eligible for advanced practice licensure depending upon the licensing and certification requirements of the state in which you hope to practice.


How Many Online Post Master’s Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate Programs Are Currently Being Offered?


The entry-level advanced board certification for nurse practitioners specializing in acute care is the AG-ACNP certification. Note that the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) dubs this “adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner” certification (AG-ACNP) while the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACCN) dubs it “acute care nurse practitioner certified in adult-gerontology” (ACNPC-AG). The two certifications are equivalent.

Although gerontology is the study of changes in people as they age, the scope of practice for professionals certified in these specialties actually ranges from young adults to senior citizens. An advanced practice nurse who specializes in care to children and adolescents with acute illnesses, disabilities, or injuries is called an acute care pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP-AC). Currently, there are 40 AG-ACNP programs in the U.S. and 14 PNP-AC programs.

AG-ACNP 40
PNP-AC 14
Total 54


5 Benefits Of Post Master’s Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate Programs


Online post master’s certificate acute care nurse practitioner programs help you develop new sets of clinical skills that you can apply directly to your professional goals. Their many benefits include:

1. Flexibility: Distance education allows you to tailor your coursework and study time to meet the demands of your schedule. You’ll have to be careful with time management of course, but there’s no reason why you can’t continue to work, and you’ll be there when your family needs you, too.
2. Cost savings: Post-graduate certificate acute care nurse practitioner programs generally cost less than the equivalent specialization when pursued as part of a graduate program.
3. Time savings: Acute Care NP programs typically take two to three years when pursued in conjunction with an MSN or DNP. In contrast, certificate programs designed for AP nurses who already have a master’s degree can generally be completed in a year or less of full-time study.
4. Professional growth: Earning a post-master’s acute care nurse practitioner certificate program can qualify you for a whole new set of roles within the professional nursing sector.
5. Networking: As a candidate pursuing an online ACNP post masters’ certificate, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to interact with instructors, colleagues, and experts in your field who will become an important part of your professional network.


How Long Do Online Post Master’s Certificate Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs Take To Complete?


Most online post master’s acute care nurse practitioner certificate programs take between one and two years to complete. The specific amount of time you’ll spend on a program will depend upon three things: the number of credits your program entails, whether you’re a full-time or part-time student, and your previous graduate transcripts. Based on a careful review of your past academic records, the best online post master’s certificate acute care nurse practitioner programs will customize a study plan for you that takes into account coursework and experiential learning you’ve already completed.

Some online post master’s ACNP certificate programs like Drexel University’s Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Post-Master’s Certificate are only offered on a part-time basis. The University of Arizona at Tucson also offers a part-time course of study that’s set up to be completed in four semesters. The University of Pittsburgh’s program is designed to be completed in three 15-week terms while the University of South Carolina at Columbia has put together a certificate program that can be completed in six semesters.


How Much Do Online Post Master’s Certificate Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs Cost?


On the whole, price tags carried by online post master’s acute care nurse practitioner certificate programs are calculated in terms of cost per credit. Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, is an exception to this: At Emory, you’ll be charged a flat rate of $21,630 for a post-MSN certificate.

The cost per credit varies widely from school to school. Private universities tend to be much more expensive than public universities. Duke University, for example, charges $1,838 per credit, but it is also ranked among the top adult-gerontology acute care NP certificates in the nation by “U.S. News & World Report,” so you will be getting your money’s worth. The University of Iowa in Iowa City, on the other hand, only charges $560 per credit plus a $130.25 technology fee. And even though these are distance-learning programs, many schools charge in-state residents lower tuition than out-of-state students. The University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, for instance, charges full-time residents of The Keystone State $920 per credit while out-of-state residents must pay $1,098.


Coursework


Before you begin a post-master’s certificate ACNP program, make sure that the coursework being offered satisfies the requirements for acute care nurse practitioner licensure in the state in which you hope to practice. The curriculum at most schools is set up to reflect the nursing licensure requirements of the state in which they are located, so this can be an issue for distance learners from other states.

After you’re accepted into one of the best post master’s acute care nurse practitioner online certificate programs, many schools will work with you to tailor your classes to your exact needs. Drexel University in Philadelphia, for example, will perform a formal Gap Analysis of all your previously completed coursework in order to come up with an individualized study plan. You will have to submit syllabi and transcripts for the classes you hope to waive, and you cannot have taken the qualifying classes more than five years previously.

Though the bulk of your education will utilize the distance learning model, some schools like Drexel, Grand Canyon University, and the University of South Carolina require one or more campus visits as well. These visits may coincide with the program’s orientation, or they may be clinical intensives during which you’ll be introduced to hands-on techniques in patient simulation labs.

The assigned coursework for online post master’s acute care nurse practitioner certificate programs typically covers pathophysiology, pharmacology, and a review of either adult-gerontological or pediatric care in a variety of acute care settings, including hospital med-surg wards, critical care units, and surgical theaters. The University of Arizona offers specialized courses such as “Women's Health in Advanced Practice Nursing” and “Cardiac Rhythm Analysis & Interventions” while the University of Iowa offers a number of electives that include “Genetics/Genomics for Advanced Nursing Practice” and “Marketing and Communication for Health Care Leaders.”


Clinical Training


Before they can take the national certification exam, both the AANC and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP) require prospective adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioners to complete 500 hours of supervised clinical training. The best online post master’s certificate acute care nurse practitioner programs exceed this minimum. Drexel University’s program entails 800 clinical hours, Duke University’s program includes 728 and Grand Canyon University’s program requires 675.

The University of Pittsburgh allows some students to test out of up to 300 clinical hours. This option is only available to certificate candidates who can show that they worked professionally with adult/gerontology patient populations in acute or critical care settings for a certain number of years.


Admission Requirements


Before you apply to any online post master’s certificate acute care nurse practitioner programs, check out your own state Board of Nursing’s licensing regulations. AGNP coursework is tailored to meet the licensing regulations of the state in which a school is physically located. If the state where you live has different licensing regulations, then it may not be worth applying however attractive a school may seem unless you’re seriously interested in relocating.

Different schools have different admissions requirements, but they almost always include unencumbered RN and NP licenses, an MSN from an ACEN, CCNE, or regionally accredited school, a 3.0-grade point average, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement that speaks to how you plan to use the certificate to advance your professional goals.

Under special circumstances, Duke University will accept candidates who have master’s degrees in fields other than nursing. The University of Arizona only requires two letters of recommendation. The University of Pittsburgh asks for a pre-admission interview. The University of Alabama expects you to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) but will waive that requirement under certain circumstances.



FOLLOWING ARE THE 10 BEST ONLINE POST MASTER’S ACUTE CARE NURSE PRACTITIONER CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS FOR 2021


1. Duke University – Durham, NC

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


2. Drexel University – Philadelphia, PA

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


3. University of South Carolina – Columbia, SC

Tracks Offered: Adult Gerontology Acute Care NP


4. Grand Canyon University – Phoenix, AZ

Tracks Offered: Adult Gerontology Acute Care NP


5. University of Iowa – Iowa City, IA

Tracks Offered: Adult/Gerontology Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care and Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner


6. University of Alabama at Birmingham – Birmingham, AL

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


7. University of Arizona – Tucson, AZ

Tracks Offered: Adult Gerontology Acute Care NP


8. Emory University – Atlanta, GA

Tracks Offered: Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner


9. University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh, PA

Tracks Offered: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner


10. Maryville University – St. Louis, MO

Tracks Offered: Adult Gerontology Acute Care NP

View Ranking Methodology



Career Opportunities After Completing This Post Master’s Certificate Program


Students in online post master’s acute care nurse practitioner certificate programs learn how to perform sophisticated invasive procedures like intubation, lumbar punctures, and the insertion of central lines. These specialized skills qualify you to work across a wide continuum of healthcare settings such as intensive care units, trauma units, sub-acute care units, hospital emergency departments, operating theaters, transport teams, palliative care agencies, and community clinics, as well as academic and governmental research institutions.


Average Salary


As an ACNP, the average wage you can expect to earn is nearly $50 an hour, which works out to approximately $102,500 a year or $8,540 a month. This reflects the fact that medical facilities increasingly use nurse practitioners who specialize in acute care as lower-cost substitutes for physicians.

Per Hour $49.26
Per Month $8,540
Per Year $102,464
(Source: payscale.com)


Job Outlook


Graduates of the best post master’s acute care nurse practitioner online certificate programs enjoy a bright job outlook once they’ve passed their qualifying examinations. As the Baby Boomer generation ages, more and more of them are going to need the kind of sophisticated medical care in hospital settings that ACNPs are so superbly equipped to provide.


Conclusion


An adult-gerontology or pediatric certificate from one of the best online post master’s acute care nurse practitioner certificate programs can bring you better career opportunities, higher pay, and more control over your professional destiny. If you’re looking for a way to take your advanced practice nursing skills to the next level, this could be the right path for you.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT


What’s the difference between AG-ACNP and ACNPC-AG certifications?

The AG-ACNP (adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner) and ACNPC-AG (acute care nurse practitioner certified in adult-gerontology) designations describe the same skill set. There is no functional difference between them. The former designation is bestowed by the ANCC upon successful completion of a qualifying exam while the latter is awarded by the AACCN.

What’s the difference between acute care nurse practitioners and primary care nurse practitioners?

Although there is some overlap between the populations they serve, acute care nurse practitioners and primary care nurse practitioners have different points of contact with their patients. ACNPs deliver episodic care to acutely ill patients that typically coincides with a traumatic event like an illness or an injury. PCNPs, on the other hand, develop long-term relationships with patients, and in addition to treating common illnesses and injuries, they’re also involved in preventative care and wellness promotion.

What hours will I work as an acute care nurse practitioner?

Most ACNPs work in hospitals or medical centers that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While planned procedures are likely to be scheduled for day shifts, unstable patients frequently require interventions in the middle of the night, and you may be the staff member charged with performing them. As an ACNP, you can expect to work nights and weekends upon occasion. On the plus side, many hospitals these days use 12-hour shifts, so you won’t have to work more than three days a week.

How should I prepare for my certification exam?

Acute care nurse practitioner exams are difficult, so you have to make sure you’re well prepared. Give yourself at least six weeks of study, and plan to study at least three hours a day. Your certifying board’s website should have an outline of the content that will be included on its exam; make sure you use that outline as your study guide. Companies offering certification review courses include Advanced Practice Education Associates (APEA), Barkley & Associates, and Fitzgerald Health Education Associates. These courses are not cheap, but they promise a return on your investment.

Do employers distinguish between advanced practice nurses who are credentialed through a graduate degree program and nurses who are credentialed after finishing a certificate program?

No. Once you pass your certification exam and receive the appropriate advanced practice licensure from the state in which you will be practicing, you are an ACNP, and the route you took to get there is irrelevant.