MSN: Acute Care Nursing Degree Programs & Career

Acute care is short-term medical care to treat severe but brief illness. Acute care nurse practitioners (ACNPs) may work in a hospital and be responsible for providing immediate treatment to restore health to individuals who have become medically unstable. Settings for work may include a hospital’s departments for cardiology, coronary care, emergencies (ER), intensive care (ICU), or neonatal intensive care, just to name a few. Most acute care nurses are registered nurses (RNs) and may also hold Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (ACNPC). Along with family practice, adult practice, women’s health, and geriatrics, acute care nursing is one of the most popular specialty areas for nurse practitioners.

How to Become an ACNP

To become an acute care nurse practitioner, students typically complete the following steps:

  1. Complete an Associate’s Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing program
  2. Earn a Registered Nurse Certification
  3. Meet the professional experience conditions
  4. Enroll and complete a MSN program with a concentration in acute care
  5. Obtain ACNP certification and proper licensure (requirements vary by state)

ACNP Salary and Career Information

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May, 2013, the expected salary, career growth, and work environment for an ACNP might include:

  • Median Salary of Nurse Practitioners: $95,070
  • Job Prospects: Very good to excellent
  • Job Setting: Private practices, outpatient care centers, nursing homes, hospitals (intensive care unit), neonatal unit, internal medicine clinics, ambulatory care, family practice offices

ACNP Qualifications

To become an ACNP, students are typically required to meet the following job qualifications:

  • ACNP Advanced Practice Certification
  • Computer skills using various applications such as word processing, presentation, and online database systems

ACNP Job Description

An ACNP is typically responsible for the following job duties:

  • Examine patients with acute, chronic, and critical health conditions and develop specific care plans based on assessment
  • Assess the impact of a chronic , critical, and/or acute illness on a patient’s health and functional status, growth and development, and quality of life
  • Order and interpret diagnostic tests and their implications for patient therapy and rehabilitative services
  • Develop a plan of care that address patients’ unique conditions and prescribe proper medication (prescriptive authority varies by state)
  • Provide educational and therapeutic support to patients and families on how best to manage symptoms

MSN Degrees for Acute Care Nurse Specialists (CNS)