Acute care NP program versus Family NP program...

Specialties NP


  • Specializes in Med-Surg/Oncology, Psych.

Hi all,

I am an LPN taking the NCLEX-RN next week and I'm starting to plan out my graduate studies. I'd like to end up working as an NP in either a critical care or ER setting, and I'm having a hard time figuring out whether to enroll in a family NP program (there are several in my area), or whether to drive the extra distance for an Acute Care NP program (the closest would be UMass Worcester). At this point in my career, I don't have much interest working in an office setting, but to be fair, I also haven't had an opportunity to get clinical experience in a practice setting. Are there any family NPs out there who have had success working in the ED or ICU or other specialized critical care settings? I would be grateful for any feedback, including feedback on NP programs in the New England area. Thank you!:bowingpur


Gator FNP

65 Posts

Specializes in family, internal, pediatric.

My friend was a trauma RN, went to FNP school with me, worked in an office for a short time, misssed the ER, and now works in the ER for a large group and lvoes it.

A family track would be more marketable. Hospitals that do not have a pediatric ER, see everyone in the same location. As an acute care, you would not be licensed to examine children.


146 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg/Oncology, Psych.

Thank you, Gator! This response was very helpful. I would love to get more input from others as well!

allnurses Guide

ghillbert, MSN, NP

3,796 Posts

Specializes in CTICU.

Very much depends on your area and the demand. For critical care, I'd think ACNP would have the edge. For ER, it depends. Best would be ACNP + AC-PNP but many FNPs work successfully in ERs.

Specializes in Family Practice, ICU.

Seems like going the ACNP route would be better. Let me know if you hear of any increase in the use of NP's as hospitalists and such, because it interests me as well. Seems like if you're interested in surgery and the like, Physician's Assistant is the better way to go.


72 Posts

Specializes in mostly PACU.

It depends on the state laws. I am in Maryland and as an FNP I'm not really allowed to work in the in-patient setting. I would be allowed to work in a fast track ER, but not the main ER. If you want all the "grit and grime" part of the ER (not the runny noses and sore throats) then your best bet might be acute care.


Here is a link to an interesting journal article on the use of ACNPs in the critical care setting. It's from the American Journal of Critical Care. It gives pretty good overview of what ACNPs can and will do on a regular basis, as well as their general reception from others. Granted, the article is somewhat old (2002) and there has probably been more research done since it was published. I do think that, with the increasing role of hospitalist physicians, the market and need for ACNPs will increase. ACNP is what I am interested in...either ACNP or PMHNP (I know I know, two completely different things)!! Hope this article is helpful.

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