What is an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP)?
One of the crowning achievements of modern medicine is that people are living longer, healthier lives in most parts of the world. By 2030, experts predict that the total of number of people worldwide age 65 and older will increase to 1 billion. The most rapid increase will occur in developing countries, which will experience a jump of 140 percent.
The Population Is Aging
The growth in the older segment of the population will present challenges to the healthcare community. One World Health Organization official has observed that although we need to ensure long-term care is accessible for those in our population approaching life’s end, we also need to rethink the process of aging itself. “We want to be stretching life in the middle, not just at the end.” That means keeping people healthy for as long as we can, for obvious reasons.
AG-ACNPs Have a Role in Caring for the Aging Population
Forward-thinking registered nurses with significant experience in treating patients can move up to greater challenges as nurse practitioners and expand their ability to treat older patients. AG-ACNPs play an important role in the management and treatment of acute and chronic conditions that are the routine effects of aging.
Among other duties AG-ACNPs:
- Direct patient care for older patients and other adults
- Make the care decisions required in acute and medically complex settings
- Serve as first point of contact and communicate with patients, families, and other care providers when ethical treatment decisions are needed
AG-ACNP Work Settings
AG-ACNPs work in a variety of patient care settings as private practitioners or in more intensive treatment environments such as ICUs and trauma units, emergency rooms, and cardiac care units. They also work in subacute care units and specialized clinics. Additionally, by virtue of their post-graduate academic qualifications, AG-ACNPs qualify for teaching positions in accredited nursing schools.
AG-ACNP salaries are substantially higher than those of traditional RNs. The median salary for all nurse practitioners in 2018 was over $107,000 per year. Nurse practitioners who work in hospitals earn a median salary of about $114,000 per year on the higher end. Educational services (state, local and private) pay nurse practitioners a median salary of $104,310 a year.
The Nursing/Training Path to AG-ACNP Certification
To pursue a career as an AG-ACNP, a candidate must:
- Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
- Become a licensed registered Nurse (RN)
- Earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- Earn a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a concentration in AG-ACNP
- Qualify as an Advanced Practiced Registered Nurse (APRN)
*Note: MSN programs with a concentration in AG-ACNP stress:
- Treating geriatric and acute care patients
- Diagnosing and treating chronic illnesses
- Applying research to patient solutions
AG-ACNP programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). AG-ACNPs will have already earned a nursing degree certified by a U.S. state. Applicants must have worked one to two years in a clinical setting before applying.
AG-ACNPs matriculate as master’s degree, post graduate, or doctoral candidates. Successful completion results in state certification as Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, which must be renewed every 5 years through the appropriate board and the state. Renewal may require additional completion of continuing education contract hours.
The AG-ACNP Training Curriculum
A typical specialty curriculum plan for AG-ACNP students is a 3-semester, 40-unit course of study. Full-time students can complete the study and clinical placements during three semesters. Clinical placements include immersion experiences in a variety of settings that AG-ACNPs may encounter after qualification.
AG-ACNP Online Options
Online AG-ACNP studies must meet the same requirements as their on-campus counterparts. The online students, however, have the flexibility of studying independently and from home. However, AG-ACNP programs offering 100 percent online courses will still require clinical practice. Likewise, most online students can expect to be called to campus for an occasional instructor meeting.
An online AG-ACNP degree program is ideal for self-directed and disciplined students who have the ability to pre-plan and meet assignment and project commitments. Also, online students should have access to high-speed internet and the hardware and software compatible to the online class platform. Online students must commit to studying about 10 hours per class per week as well as working independently to meet program requirements.
Currently, six universities (Georgetown University, Boise State University, Drexel University (in Philadelphia PA), University of Arizona, University of South Alabama, and University of Southern Indiana) offer online AG-ACNP programs. Five of those six offer live streamed classes, and three have an on-campus requirement.