How To Become an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Female adult-gerontology nurse talking with male patient

People who choose to work in healthcare typically do so because they feel called to make a positive difference in their communities. Within the healthcare field, there are many different opportunities to explore, especially if you are interested in a career in nursing. Nursing offers a wide variety of specialization options, including becoming an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AGACNP).

What Is an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner?

An AGACNP is a type of licensed, advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who delivers acute care to patients suffering from sudden, severe illnesses or chronic conditions. The APRN designation indicates that a nurse is a practicing RN who has received a graduate-level degree and advanced training in an area of specialization.

You will often find AGACNPs working in emergency rooms, intensive care units, urgent care centers, medical-surgical units and long-term care facilities. AGACNPs provide highly skilled care that can save lives and improve patient outcomes.

The job of an AGACNP is often fast-paced. Their main responsibilities include the following:

  • Evaluating and diagnosing acute medical conditions
  • Delivering life-saving medical interventions in collaboration with other healthcare professionals
  • Prescribing medications and performing diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
  • Serving as patient case managers and departmental team leaders

This career is ideal for professionals who enjoy fast-paced work and critical thinking. People who become AGACNPs must be capable of thinking clearly and performing well in high-pressure situations.

Earning an Undergraduate Nursing Degree

The first step to become an acute care nurse practitioner is to earn your undergraduate nursing degree. Select a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program that aligns with the curriculum standards necessary for licensure, including classroom instruction with hands-on labs, immersive simulation experiences and clinical rotations.

There are accelerated undergraduate BSN degree options as well, such as the RN to BSN program for practicing RNs with an associate degree, or the accelerated BSN program for those with a previous degree.

Completing a Bridge Nursing Pathway

If you are a licensed and actively practicing RN with a bachelor’s degree in another field, you will likely need to take course work that meet the prerequisite requirements to gain entry into a master’s degree in nursing program, where you can expect to take a blend of online and in-person courses.

If you choose an area of specialization, such as adult-gerontology practice, you will take additional courses in that area of study; which includes clinical experiences.

Earning a Master’s Degree in Nursing

After passing the NCLEX and becoming an RN, BSN, you must earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree in order to become an AGACNP. You should look for an accredited master’s degree program intended for future AGACNPs. You can also specialize further, such as in adult-gerontology.

The length of time it takes to complete an MSN with a focus on adult-gerontology acute care will vary depending on your school and your workload. Many MSN programs also offer most of the curriculum via online courses. However, because nursing demands hands-on, real-world experience, you should expect to complete on-campus immersion experiences as well as precepted clinical hours.

Obtaining Certification and Further Licensure Nursing Credentials

After earning your MSN, your next steps to becoming an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner will be to apply for an APRN license via the licensure board in the state where you plan to practice — different states have differing requirements; and to obtain national certification through the American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC) or American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN). These organizations administer national certification exams according to areas of practice.

Career Outlook for AGACNPs

When considering a career as an AGACNP, it’s important to look at projected job growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of September 2021, job growth for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners is projected to increase by about 45% from 2020 to 2030. This will account for an estimated increase of 121,400 jobs in the field.1

If your passion for nursing inspires you to pursue an APRN career, Grand Canyon University’s College of Nursing and Health Care Professions offers various nursing programs to help you get there. An advanced bridge pathway such as the MSN Acute Care Nurse Practitioner with an Emphasis in Adult-Gerontology can help you become an acute care nurse and advance your career in nursing.


1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on September 2021, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners.


Approved by the Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions on Dec. 19, 2022.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.