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Acute Care AGNP vs. Primary Care AGNP

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Specializes in Telemetry, PCCN. Has 7 years experience.

Hey everyone! I've been an RN since 2014 and I've finally decided that I want to further my education & pursue my DNP degree. I've been burnt out from floor nursing (esp. since covid happened) and I don't want to waste anymore time.

Im looking to apply to schools in the state of Florida however Im trying to decide which track will suit my interests and goals. I already know that I want to serve the adult population however Im stuck between Acute care and primary care? I'd like to apply to the track that allows me more job options once I graduate.

Is the Acute Care NP limited to only the hospital setting? Can a regular AGNP find work outside of the primary care setting?

I don't have hospital critical care experience yet as of now , but I am considering trying to obtain ER or ICU exp before I apply to the Acute care track....Otherwise I would also like to know if it's possible to become an Acute care NP AND find a job without critical care exp? (I know the exp helps but deciding if it's better to wait and get the exp or just prepare to apply asap.)

I would appreciate any thoughts/ concerns/advice/questions! -Nurse Fi<3

PS. My stats/ working experience is mostly in Med/Telemetry (for the last fours years). I've also briefly worked in hospice, NICU (very early on in my career), & Home Health. I am currently employed on the Med Telemetry unit FT and perdiem with another hospital's float pool. I am also currently studying to obtain my PCCN cert to improve my resume.

SopranoKris, BSN, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 6 years experience.

The biggest issue with not having critical care experience before starting ACNP is that it is expected you already have this background. You know how art lines work, you've rotoproned a patient, you've cared for a post-open heart, you've titrated pressors, you're comfortable managing a vent, you've had experience with CRRT, IABP, ECMO, etc. You'll be behind a huge 8-ball if you attempt to take ACNP courses and don't know the real-world presentation of these patients. The courses are fast-paced and assume you have this knowledge as a baseline. Our instructors are fond of saying "A students become C students in ACNP if they haven't worked in critical care". That's why there's a requirement for experience before being admitted. You can't really substitute book learning for hands-on patient experience. And even if you did, the book learning would be very difficult to absorb because you don't have a basis for what you're learning. Can it be done? Sure. But is it advisable? Not really.

I would whole-heartedly recommend getting the required experience before attempting to be an ACNP. If you want to work outpatient setting, then get the FNP. Or AGNP if you don't want to work with peds & OB/Gyn. Really think about the types of patients you want to work with and the specialty area you want to focus on and then pursue the appropriate NP certification.

Nurse Fi, ADN, BSN, LVN, RN

Specializes in Telemetry, PCCN. Has 7 years experience.

On 7/26/2020 at 4:25 PM, SopranoKris said:

The biggest issue with not having critical care experience before starting ACNP is that it is expected you already have this background. You know how art lines work, you've rotoproned a patient, you've cared for a post-open heart, you've titrated pressors, you're comfortable managing a vent, you've had experience with CRRT, IABP, ECMO, etc. You'll be behind a huge 8-ball if you attempt to take ACNP courses and don't know the real-world presentation of these patients. The courses are fast-paced and assume you have this knowledge as a baseline. Our instructors are fond of saying "A students become C students in ACNP if they haven't worked in critical care". That's why there's a requirement for experience before being admitted. You can't really substitute book learning for hands-on patient experience. And even if you did, the book learning would be very difficult to absorb because you don't have a basis for what you're learning. Can it be done? Sure. But is it advisable? Not really.

I would whole-heartedly recommend getting the required experience before attempting to be an ACNP. If you want to work outpatient setting, then get the FNP. Or AGNP if you don't want to work with peds & OB/Gyn. Really think about the types of patients you want to work with and the specialty area you want to focus on and then pursue the appropriate NP certification.

Thankyou so much for your insight! I think I’ll spend the next year obtaining critical care exp.... I’m gonna try to get into the SICU at my hospital... if not I’ll try ED ... ill spend the next year obtaining certifications & references to strengthen my application as well. Thankyou!