Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP vs Primary Care NP

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Supporting and promoting health across the adult lifespan of a human being is no easy task. That is why it requires countless hours of academic training and hands-on clinical experience to become an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner. Even after degrees are conferred and credentials earned, advanced nursing can be a profession that consumes a good deal of your life. That’s why it is important for students who are interested in pursuing an advanced nursing degree to choose the specialty that is right for them.

Adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioners (AG-ACNPs) and adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioners (AG-PCNPs) have very similar scopes in their practice. However, as you will see below, there are some important educational, clinical, and environmental differences.

Review the following comparison chart to get an idea of which type of adult-gerontology nurse practitioner (AGNP) degree and career path might be right for you.

AG-ACNP vs AG-PCNP Comparison Chart

The following table details some of the most important similarities and differences between the two AGNP classifications.

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse PractitionerAdult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
EducationMaster’s of science degree from an AG-ACNP program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Some adult-gerontology acute care nurses may have an additional postgraduate or doctoral degree as well.Master’s of science Degree from an AG-PCNP program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Some adult-gerontology primary care nurses may have an additional postgraduate or doctoral degree as well.
Educational SettingAccredited university graduate programs.Accredited university graduate programs.
Typical DutiesConduct initial health assessments for adults from adolescence through old ageAssess symptoms and recommend treatment options for acutely ill adults, including prescription medications, specialist treatment, and discharge aftercareManage patients from admission to discharge alongside physicians and other medical professionalsCross setting management from admitted to outpatient status for best outcomesConduct initial health assessments for adults from adolescence through old ageHelp patients to manage chronic illnesses and health issues such as diabetesPromote health maintenance
Can Prescribe Medications?YesYes
Common Practice SettingsInpatient hospitalCommunity clinicEmergency departmentIntensive care unitSpecialty labAcute care unitSpecialty clinicPrivate practice officeAmbulatory care centerCommunity clinicPrison, jailLong-term care facilitySpecialty clinicRehabilitation centerVA facilitiesHome careCollege campuses or schools
Licensing & CertificationCertification for adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioners is available through the American Nurse’s Credentialing Center (ANCC). If certification is successfully completed, nurses are awarded the credential AGACNP-BC, where the BC stands for Board Certified.
Prior to becoming certified as an AG-ACNP, nurses must have a valid registered nurse license and have completed a minimum of 500 supervised clinical hours in the adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner role and population.
Certification for adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioners is available through the American Nurse’s Credentialing Center (ANCC). If certification is successfully completed, nurses are awarded the credential AGPCNP-BC, where the BC stands for “Board Certified.”
Prior to becoming certified as an AG-PCNP, nurses must have a valid registered nurse license and have completed a minimum of 500 supervised clinical hours in the adult–gerontology primary care nurse practitioner role and population.
Continuing Education RequirementsThe AG-ACNP certification must be renewed every five years. Continuing education requirements allow the certifying body to determine whether the nurse practitioner has continued to learn the latest techniques and kept current with his or her practice. To be eligible for renewal, nurses must complete at minimum 75 contact hours of approved courses, 25 of which must be in pharmacotherapeutics. The full renewal requirements are available from the ANCC website.The AG-PCNP certification must be renewed every five years. Continuing education requirements allow the certifying body to determine whether the nurse practitioner has continued to learn the latest techniques and kept current with his or her practice. To be eligible for renewal, nurses must complete at minimum 75 contact hours of approved courses, 25 of which must be in pharmacotherapeutics. The full renewal requirements are available from the ANCC website.
SpecializationCritical careCardio-pulmonaryEmergency department/traumaOncologySpecialization is uncommon for primary care nurse practitioners as they focus on promoting health and managing chronic issues. However, the practice setting that this type of nurse practitioner chooses may dictate the professional experiences he or she is able to have.
Successful PersonalitiesDepending on the setting where they choose to work, acute care nurses may deal with extremely sensitive cases – from the results of traumatic car accidents or interpersonal violence to the ravages of cancer and heart disease. That means that a successful AG-ACNP personality will be one of compassion, resourcefulness, and level headed decision making skills. AG-ACNPs will also likely work alongside many other medical professionals, meaning they have to nurture good communication skills, impeccable paperwork, as well as the ability to cooperate and to lead.AG-PCNPs certainly must be compassionate. However, this particular path does not tend to involve quite so many violent traumas and illnesses, making it better suited to those nurses that prefer not to experience that type of gore. In order to be effective in their health promotion programs, primary care nurse practitioners should be able to communicate well with patients and understand the life circumstances that may make one course of care better than another. Further, a distinct need for primary care professionals across the U.S. means that AG-PCNPs should be able to work independently and have the hardiness to work in rural or underserved areas when necessary.
Average SalaryThe Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track AG-ACNP salaries separately from other nurse practitioners. For all nurse practitioners, the median salary is $103,880.The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track AG-PCNP salaries separately from other nurse practitioners. Again, for all nurse practitioners, the median salary is $103,880.

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