How to Become an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)

    August 10, 2022
    How to Become an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)
    Kathleen Gaines
    By: Kathleen Gaines News and Education Editor, MSN, RN, BA, CBC

    Part One What Is an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP)?

    Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners (AG-ACNP) are APRNs that care for adults and geriatric patients suffering from critical and chronic conditions. 

    According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), “the primary role of the AG-ACNP is to care for patients with complex, acute conditions. Many AG-ACNPs practice in intensive care, trauma or acute care units.” 

    AG-ACNPs primarily focus on chronic and critical conditions but they can also work in primary care settings. This specialty allows you to work in both critical care and primary care settings - allows for more job opportunities and learning experiences.

    This article will provide an overview of what an AG-ACNP is, their salary, the skills needed to be one, what it is like to work as an AG-ACNP nurse, and more!

    Part Two What Does an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Do?

    Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioners (AG-ACNP) oversee the care of patients 13 years of age and older with acute, chronic, or critical medical conditions. Some might focus on the younger spectrum of patients, most will focus solely on the geriatric community.
    AG-ACNPs generally care for patients in a hospital setting. The day-to-day duties include,

    • Analyzing patients' health histories, symptoms, and diagnostic information to develop appropriate diagnoses and comprehensive treatment plans accordingly
    • Prescribing medication dosages, routes and frequencies and educating patients on the risks and side effects associated with medication
    • Ordering and interpreting the results of diagnostic tests and labs
    • Educating patients and caregivers about self-management of acute or chronic illnesses and conditions
    • Diagnosing and treating common acute health care problems
    • Evaluating the effectiveness of a patient's treatment plan and making changes to the plan if needed
    • Coordinating with other healthcare providers
    • Preventing future complications of patients
    • Developing multifaceted treatment plans

    While most AG-ACNPs will work in the hospital setting, they may also work in private physician offices, clinics, long-term care facilities, and hospice care.

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    Part Three Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Salary

    According to the BLS, the average annual salary for Nurse Practitioners in 2021 was $123,780 per year or $59.51 per hour. This figure is not specific to AG-ACNPs but rather all NPs regardless of specialty and certification. 

    According to Payscale, AG-ACNPs earn an average of $96,063 per year or $80.50 per hour. Glassdoor, on the other hand, indicates an average annual salary of $111,116 per year

    Other factors to consider include:

    • Hourly vs salary pay
    • The city and state where you live
    • The type of healthcare facility you work in
    • Whether you work 8, 10, or 12 hours shifts
    • Whether you work part-time or full-time
    • Whether you work holidays and weekends (which may offer a higher shift differential)

    Part Four How to Become an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

    Step One: Attend an Accredited Nursing Program

    AG-ACNPs must have a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) from an accredited nursing program.

    Step Two: Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN)

    All Nurse Practitioners must pass the NCLEX-RN and maintain a current and active license in their state.

    Step Three: Gain Several Years of Working Experience

    Most nurses will gain experience working in adult medical-surgical or geriatric healthcare before attending NP school. 

    Some schools will have specific experience requirements but most will require a minimum of two years of working with a relevant patient population.

    Step Four: Attend an Accredited Nurse Practitioner Program

    Find an accredited program that specializes in AG-ACNP. This may be either a program designed to bestow a Master of Science in Nursing program or a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree

    Programs typically take two to three years to complete on a full-time basis but many offer part-time tracks so that you can continue working through the program.  However, once it comes time for the clinical part of the program, it may be very difficult to continue working (at least on a full-time basis). 

    Each of these programs has its own requirements and criteria selection for incoming students, but in most cases, applicants should be prepared to provide documentation of the following for consideration:

    • Minimum of two years experience working as a Registered Nurse
    • Minimum of one year working in a relevant setting
    • Valid RN licensure
    • BSN degree or Bachelor’s degree in a related field of study, including completion of prerequisite courses in human anatomy, microbiology, chemistry, physiology, and statistics
    • Minimum GPA demonstrated in college transcripts: may require 3.0 in related science studies
    • Personal interview
    • Letters of recommendations
    • Official transcripts

    Step Five: Get Certified

    The two organizations that award an AG-ACNP certification are the American Nurses Credentialing Center (AGACNP-BC) and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) Certification Corporation (ACNPC-AG®).

    NPs are required to be nationally certified in their specialty. These exams are similar to the NCLEX. Without passing the NCLEX, you can’t work as an RN. Without passing a board certification exam, you can’t work as an NP.

    Part Five Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Skills Needed

    AG-ACNPs will experience more independence in this role than a traditional bedside nurse, but will also generally function as part of a larger team. For that reason, communication and collaboration are important skills to be successful in this role.  

    Furthermore, you will need to communicate with other healthcare professionals, nurses, family members, and patients. 

    Additional skills that an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NPs need include:

    • Efficient time management skills
    • Quick critical thinking skills
    • Intrapersonal and communication skills
    • The ability to perform in high-pressure situations
    • Stress-management skills

    Part Six Should You Become an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner?

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the career outlook for NPs is excellent. As of 2021, there's an expected 45% growth in the need for nurse practitioners, which is much faster than the average for all careers. This is an excellent career choice for nurses that wish to advance their careers and become APRNs. 

    AG-ACNPs can expect to work in fast-paced units caring for the critical needs of the adult and geriatric population. It’s the perfect career for former ICU nurses that love the intensity of the unit, but are wanting to expand their knowledge beyond the bedside. 

    While not all AG-ACNPs work with sicker patients, it is important that there is a genuine love of the geriatric population as this is more of the focus of this type of NP. 

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