Adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioners are health care professionals with intersecting specializations in acute care and geriatric care. As acute care providers, they typically work with patients experiencing complex critical, episodic or deteriorating conditions, rather than those who need routine and preventive care. The patient population for AGACNPs can range from young adults over age 13 to geriatric patients with impaired overall function. Other nurse practitioners may specialize in acute care for pediatric or family populations, geriatric primary care, gynecologic and obstetric care or any combination of specialties. As with all nurse practitioners, AGACNPs must earn a postgraduate degree and obtain national or state certification in addition to their registered nurse license.
Providing medical interventions, such as intubation, placing intravenous lines, or wound and injury care.
Managing patient pain.
Advocating for patients.
Communicating with patients and their families.
Acute care nurse practitioners often treat patients in their most vulnerable moments of illness or injury. Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners may have the additional responsibility of helping patients and their families throughout the last days of life. AGACNPs address not just the physical needs of their patients but also the mental health concerns of patients and often their families during difficult times.
Because of the unpredictable nature of emergency care, AGACNPs working in emergency room and trauma units typically have shifts when they are on call. Outpatient and urgent care centers may have working hours closer to that of a standard doctor’s office, but after-hours and weekend work may be required.
Education and Certification Needed To Become an AGACNP
Typically, it takes at least six years to become an AGACNP: four years to complete a bachelor’s degree and two years to complete a master’s program and certification exam. Many AGACNP graduate programs also require some experience working as a nurse prior to enrollment. You may apply for certification exams at any time after completion of your postgraduate degree.
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners (AGACNP) vs. Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioners (AGPCNP)
While the titles may look similar, there are several main differences between AGACNPs and AGPCNPs.
AGACNPs are acute care nurse practitioners who focus on treating illness and injuries that may be acute or terminal. They also:
Work in more fast-paced environments.
Tend to perform more invasive procedures, such as intubation, incision and drainage, or placing sutures and staples.
AGPCNPs are adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioners who provide preventive and routine health care. They also:
Work in longer-term care facilities.
Diagnose and manage episodic or chronic health conditions.
Treat unexpected or deteriorating conditions.
Top Skills Needed for an AGACNP
In addition to specialized health care knowledge, there are several core skills for becoming an AGACNP. These include:
Making logical decisions quickly under pressure.
Assessing critical situations accurately and expediently.
Collaborating with other health care providers.
Advocating for patient rights.
Valuing a patient-centered care model.
Communicating effectively and patiently with diverse individuals and groups.
Balancing the needs and wishes of patients with those of their family members, particularly in terminal situations.
Successful AGACNPs need to be confident and comforting, compassionate and clear-headed. They are important sources of care for many patients, often during serious illness or at the end of life. Working with high-needs patients can be challenging, but for dedicated caregivers, adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner can be a rewarding career choice.