Family NP VS. Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP - What’s the Difference?

baylor Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP
baylor Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP

In the United States, there is an increasing demand for adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioners (AGACNPs) who can address the complex chronic, acute, specialized, and critical care needs of adult and older adult patients. 

Only 3.4 percent of NPs currently work as AGACNPs, compared to approximately 65 percent of NPs who work as family nurse practitioners (FNPs). This skills gap in the workforce offers NPs who have completed a BSN-DNP Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner track the unique opportunity to assist patients with acute conditions, and enter a positive job outlook with higher earning potential in the process.

What is the difference between an FNP vs. AGACNP? If you are investigating which nurse practitioner track you should pursue, it’s important to understand the distinction between FNP vs. AGACNP, such as basic roles and responsibilities, work settings, education, job outlook, earning potential, and more.

FNP vs. AGACNP

Family nurse practitioners (FNP) usually work in a primary care setting and serve patients of all ages and backgrounds, from childhood to adulthood. FNPs are essential in helping advocate for patients, promote healthy lifestyle choices, and guide patients in the prevention and treatment of diseases. 

Adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioners (AGACNP) focus on the management of complex health needs and more commonly work with critically ill adult patients in the acute setting, such as a hospital emergency room or a special care unit.

Learn more about Baylor University's Online DNP-AGACNP track

Roles and Responsibilities

What does an acute care nurse practitioner do? The responsibilities of an FNP vs. AGACNP are distinct and affect the day-to-day activities of a healthcare provider, including the patients they will work with, their workplace setting, and the nature of the medical care they will deliver. 

FNP Responsibilities 

  • Provide services to a diverse population over a wide age range to include preventive/wellness care as well as healthcare for episodic and chronic illnesses.
  • Evaluate patients and develop appropriate treatment plans for the management of health conditions, prevention of disease and promotion of wellness.
  • Offer medical guidance and counseling to patients from childhood through adulthood.

AGACNP Responsibilities

  • Care for adult patients who are experiencing acute illness related to a specific condition or physiological system.
  • Divide time between outpatient and inpatient facilities.
  • May serve as the first assistant in surgeries.
  • Directly assess and manage care for patients.
  • Care for a rapidly growing aging population in fields such as nephrology, oncology, cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, pulmonology, and more.

Work Settings

One of the large differences between FNP vs. AGACNP, apart from who they provide care for, is the work setting they occupy. Where can acute care nurse practitioners work? Nurse practitioners who work in a primary care setting are more commonly found in clinics, whereas acute care practitioners spend more time in hospitals, particularly in the ICU.

FNP Work Settings

  • Women’s health clinics
  • Family practice, pediatric, and internal medicine clinics 
  • Outpatient and ambulatory settings like independent and partner practice clinics and community health clinics 
  • Emergency Room and Urgent Care
  • Organizations, businesses, and governmental agencies, and urgent care

AGACNP Work Settings

  • Hospitals
  • Emergency rooms
  • Intensivist care unit (ICU)
  • Specialty care like cardiology, pulmonology, hospice, and oncology where they split time seeing patients in the hospital and following up with patients in the clinic

How to Become an FNP vs. AGACNP

Becoming an acute care nurse practitioner vs. family nurse practitioner requires different types of education to learn the knowledge needed to best support patients. Both specializations require years of education, supervised clinical hours, and continued dedication to service through healthcare.

How to Become an FNP

  1. Earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN).
  2. Pass the NCLEX-RN to receive the RN licensure.
  3. Complete an MSN or BSN-DNP Family Nurse Practitioner educational program.
  4. Pass the national FNP certification board exam.
  5. Obtain state licensure as a nurse practitioner.

How to Become an AGACNP

  1. Earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN).
  2. Pass the NCLEX-RN to receive the RN licensure.
  3. Complete an MSN or BSN-DNP Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Track. 
  4. Pass the ANCC or AACN certification board exam to receive the ACNPC-AG certification.
  5. Obtain state licensure and ACLS certification as a nurse practitioner.

Learn more about Baylor University's Online DNP-AGACNP track

How are Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NPs Educated and Certified?

New programs are emerging to upskill and reskill NPs who want to practice as AGACNPs. The BSN-DNP Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner track transmits advanced competencies that nursing students would not learn in a typical MSN. 

BSN-DNP Program Themes

  • Advanced Competencies: Design, direct, and evaluate strategies to promote effective patient-centered care.
  • Nurse Leadership: Incorporate leadership skills and team-building strategies to improve quality metrics within healthcare.
  • Evidence-Based Innovation: Employ information systems and technology in the delivery of transformative healthcare.
  • Policy and Advocacy: Advocate for evidence-based health policy to improve health population outcomes.

The Curriculum

If you meet the requirements needed to enroll in the Doctor of Nursing Practice in the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner track, you will have to complete 75 didactic credits that include practical requirements of 1,125 hours. 

Admissions to the AGACNP track are three times per year. Course work is divided into three trimesters for a total of 10 semesters. The main coursework is online with on-campus immersions for skill-building.

The curriculum is focused on emphasizing adult-focused health care services and provides a detailed study of complex chronic, acute, specialized, and critical care needs of adult and older adult patients.

Sample courses include:

  • NUR 5311: Gerontology Considerations for APRN Practice
  • NUR 5333: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP Management I: Common Problems
  • NUR 5335: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP Management III: Acute & Critical Problems

Fast Facts: FNP vs. AGACNP

Do you want to learn more about the differences between an FNP vs. AGACNP at a glance? The following fast facts outline the required clinical hours, timeline, job outlook, and average earning potential of an FNP vs. AGACNP. 
 

Question

FNP

AGACNP

How long does it take to become an FNP vs. AGACNP?

Becoming a nurse practitioner typically takes at least seven years of education, training, and certification exam.

It takes at least seven years to become an AGACNP, including four years to complete a bachelor’s degree and three years to complete a DNP degree and certification exam.

What’s the job outlook for an FNP vs. AGACNP?

45% growth through 2029 (much faster than average).

45% growth through 2029 (much faster than average).

What is the average earning potential for an FNP vs. AGACNP?

FNP salaries range from $79,000 to $117,000.

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner salaries range from $86,000 to $125,000.

How many NPs in the United States for an FNP vs. AGACNP?

Approximately 65 percent of NPs work as FNPs.

Only 3.4 percent of NPs currently work as AGACNPs.

Pursuing a Career in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care 

The population of the United States is aging and older adults require complex care. The majority of NPs pursue careers as family nurse practitioners or pediatric nurse practitioners and there is an urgent need for practitioners in adult-gerontology acute care.

Working as an AGACNP will allow you to be of service to adults and older adults in need of complex chronic, acute, and critical care. If you are ready to take the next steps to become an AGACNP, you can learn more about Baylor University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice in the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner track and download the program guide to receive everything you need to get started. 

Why Baylor University?

Transform your career and contribute to the future of nursing at Baylor University. Baylor University teaches nursing students how to learn, lead, and serve by giving them the necessary tools to launch their nursing careers. Nursing students are set up for success in the following ways:

  • Baylor University collaborates with you to find a nearby site for clinicals aligned with your area of study.
  • Baylor University is internationally recognized for educational excellence and for having a faculty committed to teaching and scholarship.
  • Baylor University’s online nursing programs are CCNE-accredited and the DNP-Nurse Midwifery online program is also accredited by ACME.

It’s time to pursue an in-demand specialization in AGACNP, learn advanced competencies, and be of service to thousands of patients through compassionate and holistic care.
 

Explore Baylor University’s online nursing programs and start your journey today.