Opting for a career as an acute care nurse practitioner is a popular choice for nurses who enjoy the fast-paced nature of critical care, but who want to enter advanced practice. There are a variety of programs across the nation to help nurses achieve this goal, and nurses can choose a sub-specialty, such as adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner or pediatric acute care nurse practitioner. Students can also choose between MSN and DNP pathways to further customize their educational experience.

Choosing an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) Program

With a little research, picking the right acute care nurse practitioner program can be a snap. Be sure to check for the following when comparing programs:

Accreditation

Proper accreditations are one of the main things a student can look for when researching programs. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) are two of the main accrediting bodies to look for. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses also maintains a list of schools with curriculums verified for acute care nurse practitioner certification.

Program Cost

With most acute care nurse practitioner programs listing tuition cost per credit hour, students will find a range of tuition prices, from roughly $550 to $900 per credit, depending on factors like school, location, and degree-level chosen. Keep in mind that these tuition costs are typically not inclusive of things like mandatory fees, course materials, and other additional expenses.

Program Length

For the typical MSN-level acute care nurse practitioner program, roughly 48 credit hours are required, along with a minimum number of clinical hours. Part-time and full-time study options are usually available. For DNP-level acute care nurse practitioner programs, roughly 77 total credits are needed, along with mandatory clinical hours. Students can expect the DNP program to take about 4 years to complete.

Internship/Externship Opportunities

Many schools have relationships with local hospitals and medical centers in which students can complete their hands-on training. Students can inquire with prospective schools to see what kind of internship/externship opportunities are available to them.

Online/Campus Options

At the request of increasingly time-strapped students, many programs now offer both online and campus-based acute care nurse practitioner programs. Some schools even offer a "hybrid" program, allowing students to take many courses online but also offering classroom-based lectures and labs.

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Degree Levels Offered

Those interested in an acute care nurse practitioner career have two educational pathways to choose from: the MSN or the DNP. Both usually offer the option of choosing between adult gerontology or a pediatric acute care nurse practitioner pathway. Each degree level has its own pros and cons, so students must consider their own long-term goals to determine which is right for them.

MSN Programs

There are a variety of MSN-level specialty programs; the most common is the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program. Students enrolled in this program will take a mix of advanced nursing courses as well as specialized acute care courses such as Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics, Pathophysiology of the Human Disease, and Diagnostic Reasoning and Clinical Decision-Making for Acute Care. Jefferson College of Nursing at Thomas Jefferson University in Pennsylvania offers an accredited MSN Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program.

DNP Programs

Those wanting to enter the highest roles as acute care nurse practitioners can opt for a doctoral degree. These DNP programs emphasize leadership and prepare nurses to provide direct patient management from admission to discharge. Students will take much of the same coursework as MSN students, but will also take classes such as Organizational and Systems Leadership, Clinical Data Management, and numerous DNP Practicum courses. The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing offers an accredited DNP-level Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program.

Online Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs

As distance education grows, more schools are offering online acute care nurse practitioner programs. These programs can offer an unprecedented level of flexibility for those with hectic schedules. Be aware, though, that some programs do require a limited amount of on-campus participation as well.

Advantages of an Online Program

The convenience of online programs is the main draw for most students. Those with busy lives and numerous commitments can take courses from the comfort of their own homes. This is ideal for those who don't live close enough to a university to make commuting feasible. Additionally, online students don't have to worry about the gas or parking expenses that campus-based students must deal with.

Program Accreditation

Like their classroom-based counterparts, online acute care nurse practitioner programs should be fully accredited. ACEN or CCNE accreditation is strongly preferred, and a school that's been vetted by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses is also a safe bet.

Costs and Length

Online acute care nurse practitioner programs require the same amount of credits that a campus-based program does, but part-time study options are much more common with distance learning. This means that the total length of the program generally depends on how quickly the student wants to move through the curriculum. Costs for both MSN and DNP level online programs are also similar to in-person programs, at approximately $500-$800 per credit hour. Boise State University's online Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program costs $750 per credit hour.

What Are the Admissions and Certification Requirements?

Admissions requirements for most acute care nurse practitioner programs include:

  • Must possess a BSN from an accredited school
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • Possess a valid, unencumbered RN license from the U.S. (some states may be ineligible for certain online programs; always inquire with a prospective school first)
  • Personal goal statement
  • Provide a current copy of a resume or CV
  • Professional letters of recommendation

Certification as an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-AG) is through examination via the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. The Acute Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-AC) credential is offered through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. Eligibility requirements for these exams include:

  • Current, unencumbered U.S. RN or APRN license
  • Successful completion of an accredited, graduate-level acute care nurse practitioner program

List of Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs

There are a variety of acute care nurse practitioner programs available, see the list below.

Jump to Your State Listings

Alabama

301 Sparkman Drive
Huntsville, AL 35899
(256) 824-1000

Arizona

Graduate Certificate Programs
411 N Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(480) 965-7788

1305 N. Martin | PO Box 210203
Tucson, AZ 85721
(520) 626-6154

Arkansas

2 East Center Street
Fayetteville, AR 72701
(800) 952-1165

4301 West Markham Street
Little Rock, AR 72205
(501) 686-7000

California

1250 Bellflower Boulevard
Long Beach, CA 90840
(562) 985-4111

Colorado

12950 E. Montview Boulevard
Aurora, CO 80045
(303) 724-2152

Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
12950 E. Montview Boulevard
Aurora, CO 80045
(303) 724-2152

Connecticut

231 Glenbrook Rd
Storrs, CT 06269
(860) 486-0876

400 West Campus Drive
Orange, CT 06477
(203) 785-2389

Florida

MSN Programs
11300 NE 2nd Avenue
Miami Shores, FL 33161
(305) 899-3379

Graduate Certificate Programs
12201 Research Parkway, Suite 300
Orlando, FL 32826
(407) 823-2744

P.O. Box 248153
Coral Gables, FL 33124
(305) 284-3666

12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd MDC Box 22
Tampa, FL 33612
(813) 974-2191

Georgia

1120 15th Street
Augusta, GA 30912
(706) 721-9767

1520 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30322
(404) 727-7980

1935 Abercorn Street
Savannah, GA 31419
(912) 344-2576

1501 Mercer University Drive
Macon, GA 31207
(180) 063-7237 x8

School of Health & Natural Sciences
100 University Parkway
Macon, GA 31206
(478) 471-2700

Hawaii

1 Aloha Tower Drive
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 544-0200

Idaho

1910 University Dr
Boise, ID 83725
(208) 426-1000

Illinois

One University Parkway
Romeoville, IL 60446
(815) 838-0500

Graduate Certificate Programs
1032 W. Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 274-3000

511 NE Greenleaf Street
Peoria, IL 61603
(309) 655-2201

Indiana

600 Barnhill Drive, NU 122
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 274-2806

Le Mans Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556
(574) 284-4000

Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712
(812) 464-8600

Iowa

1990 Heath St
Waterloo, IA 50703
(319) 226-2000

1 University Place
Lamoni, IA 50140
(641) 784-5000

Kansas

Graduate Certificate Programs
3901 Rainbow Blvd.
Kansas City, KS 66160
(913) 588-1619

Kentucky

Nunn Drive
Highland Heights, KY 41099
(800) 985-7215

555 South Floyd Street Suite 3019
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 852-5825

Louisiana

1900 Gravier Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
(504) 568-4200

175 Sam Sibley Dr
Natchitoches, LA 71497
(318) 357-6011

Maine

Department of Nursing
278 Whites Bridge Road
Standish, ME 04084
(207) 893-7957

PO Box 9300
Portland, ME 04104
(180) 080-0487 x6

Maryland

School of Nursing
525 N. Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
(410) 955-4766

Massachusetts

291 Springfield Street
Chicopee, MA 01013
(413) 594-2761

Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
36 1st Avenue
Boston, MA 02129
(617) 726-2947

360 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 373-2000

100 William T. Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
(617) 287-5000

55 Lake Avenue
North Worcester, MA 01655
(508) 856-3488

Michigan

303 E. Kearsley Street
Flint, MI 48502
(810) 762-3300

Minnesota

859 30th Ave SE
Rochester, MN 55904
(507) 285-7100

Mississippi

2500 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39216
(601) 984-1000

Missouri

4483 Duncan Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 454-7055

650 Maryville University Drive
St. Louis, MO 63141
(314) 529-9300

DNP ProgramsGraduate Certificate Programs
1 University Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63121
(314) 516-5000

Nebraska

42nd and Emile
Omaha, NE 68198
(402) 559-4000

Nevada

New Jersey

180 University Avenue
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 972-4307

College of Nursing
400 South Orange Ave.
South Orange, NJ 07079
(973) 761-9000

New Mexico

2502 Marble Ave NE
Albuquerque, NM 87131
(505) 272-0858

New York

617 W 168th St
New York, NY 10032
(212) 305-5756

Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
433 First Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 998-5300

Graduate Certificate Programs
1 Pace Plaza
New York, NY 10038
(866) 722-3338

3690 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 385-8000

North Carolina

9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28223
(704) 687-8622

Ohio

1375 University Esplanade
Kent, OH 44242
(330) 672-7930

2600 Cleveland Avenue Northwest
Canton, OH 44709
(800) 521-1146

127 S Davis Ave
Columbus, OH 43222
(614) 234-5800

School of Nursing

Athens, OH 45701
(740) 593-1000

302 E Buchtel Ave
Akron, OH 44325
(330) 972-7111

2550 Lander Rd
Pepper Pike, OH 44124
(440) 449-4200

3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton, OH 45431
(937) 775-3333

Graduate Certificate Programs
1 University Plaza
Youngstown, OH 44555
(330) 941-3000

Oklahoma

2501 N Blackwelder
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
(405) 208-5000

800 S Tucker Dr
Tulsa, OK 74104
(918) 631-2000

Oregon

3147 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd
Portland, OR 97239
(503) 494-8311

Pennsylvania

Division of Nursing
2755 Station Ave.
Center Valley, PA 18034
(610) 282-1100 x2838

Department of Nursing
1200 Main Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 861-1660

College of Nursing
111 S 11th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 503-8890

Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
418 Curie Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-8281

3500 Victoria Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
(412) 624-4586

Rhode Island

45 Upper College Rd
Kingston, RI 02881
(401) 874-1000

South Carolina

1601 Greene Street
Columbia, SC 29208
(803) 777-7412

Tennessee

615 McCallie Ave
Chattanooga, TN 37403
(423) 425-4416

Texas

304 Administration Dr.
Denton, TX 76204
(940) 898-2000

301 University Blvd
Galveston, TX 77555
(409) 772-1011

500 West University Avenue
El Paso, TX 79968
(915) 747-5000

MSN Programs
6901 Bertner
Houston, TX 77030
(713) 500-2000

Utah

10 South 2000 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
(801) 581-3414

Virginia

1100 East Leigh Street
Richmond, VA 23298
(804) 828-0724

Washington

Graduate Certificate Programs
901 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 296-6000

Washington, DC

3700 O St NW
Washington, DC 20057
(202) 687-0100

Wisconsin

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