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Are You Considering a Career as an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner?

A female NP reviews a document with a female patient in an exam room

Take a closer look at the role of an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AGACNP).

Do you have the desire to improve health outcomes for patients with acute and, often, chronic health conditions? If you answered yes, you should consider a career as an AGACNP.

What Is an AGACNP?

Acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP) often describes NPs who are certified in acute care, pediatric acute care and/or adult-gerontology acute care. However, the certification exam for acute care was retired in 2014 when the certification for adult-gerontology acute care was introduced. The two entry-level advanced practice board certifications in acute care available to new NPs are currently pediatric acute care and adult-gerontology acute care. This article will focus on the role of AGACNPs who have been educated to care for young adults, older adults and geriatric patients.

AGACNPs meet the needs of their patients by providing them with a spectrum of care, from disease prevention to acute care management. The primary role of the AGACNP is to care for patients with complex, acute conditions. Many AGACNPs practice in intensive care, trauma or acute care units. While most AGACNPs report practicing in tertiary care practice settings, AGACNPs can now also work in specialty clinics and long-term care facilities. AGACNPs provide complex monitoring and develop multifaceted treatment plans for adults and gerontology patients. They focus on preventing future complications while improving the health of the patient. The AGACNP role also extends beyond clinical practice to include administrative, teaching and research components.

If you are interested in this career path, you should be aware that NPs in acute care typically have non-traditional working hours that require them to be available on weekends and nights as well as be on call. Nurses interested in becoming AGACNPs can achieve national certification from one of two NP certification boards.

As your national NP community, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) recognizes that your career choice can have an impact on health care in our country. With this in mind, AANP is here to help guide you through the stages of your career. As a student member of AANP, you have access to a comprehensive collection of resources created specifically for you — from NPs who have been in your shoes. AANP also has a searchable list of NP programs.

Perspective of an ACNP Teaching an AGACNP Program

“I was originally educated as a clinical nurse specialist [CNS] in critical care. When the ACNP role was developed, I returned to graduate school to learn advanced nursing practice skills for individual patients. I earned my ACNP certification and licensure after completing my PhD, subsequently blending direct care with a program of research that has been informed by advanced practice nursing. It has been amazing to see early and progressive mobility, which is my program of research and practice passion, become embedded in order sets and guidelines for the care of patients in acute and intensive care units. I now educate NP students who are also committed to delivering optimal care to patients who are ‘physiologically unstable, technologically dependent and/or are highly vulnerable to complications.1 Now, the designation is Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners (AGACNPs). The NPs with this population focus continue to provide compassionate, time-sensitive and team-based care in a variety of settings.”

— Chris Winkelman, PhD, RN, ACNP, FAANP, FCCM, CCRN, CNE, Associate Professor, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, and Lead Faculty, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing

Five Facts You Should Know About AGACNPs

  1. On average, AGACNPs have 6.3 years of experience.1
  2. Full-time AGACNPs have a median total annual income — which includes base salary, productivity bonuses, incentive payments and more — of $113,000.1
  3. The top clinical focus areas of NPs certified in adult-gerontology acute care are critical care, cardiovascular and hospitalist.1
  4. The top practice settings of NPs certified in adult-gerontology acute care are hospital inpatient units and hospital outpatient clinics.1
  5. The top diagnoses treated by AGACNPs are hypertension, heart failure and diabetes.1

Career Resources for AGACNPs

Visit the AANP JobCenter to find available positions for AGACNPs. You can filter your search by state, experience level and job type, including full-time positions, part-time positions or internships. You can also upload your résumé to the JobCenter and let employers find you!

If you need help navigating the process of finding a job, please check out the JobCenter’s resources. The JobCenter is dedicated to helping you prepare for interviews, negotiate your salary and polish your resume. AANP also offers tips on becoming certified, finding the right practice setting and staying informed on important health issues at every stage of your NP career.

Professional Development Tools From AANP

Next Steps

By now, you may have decided that this career path is right for you. If you are not already a member of AANP, you should consider joining to gain access to:

  • More than 150 hours of CE activities through the AANP CE Center.
  • Discounted registration to AANP conferences so that you can connect with your fellow ACNPs and NP colleagues of all specialties.
1 2020 AANP National NP Sample Survey: Practice.