Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP)

An acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP) works closely with doctors to provide emergency care to patients suffering heart attacks, acute respiratory symptoms, shock and many other critical medical conditions.

Typically, an acute care nurse practitioner oversees patients requiring short-term critical medical care. ACNPs supervise the physical examination of the patient, order tests, watch over the nurses performing those tests and interpret the results.

As many highly-trained ACNPs have the same skills as doctors, they are vital in hospital emergency departments, critical care units, ambulatory care clinics, operating theaters, walk-in clinics and community-based health care facilities. The importance of ACNPs will continue to grow in American health care in the coming years.

ACNPs can perform both invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures to pre- and post-operative patients and are fully trained to diagnose and treat acute medical problems. This can take a lot of pressure of doctors in critical care situations.

An Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Has Many Vital Responsibilities

An ACNP often takes care of a critically ill patient from the moment they enter a hospital’s inpatient department to the day they are discharged, in collaboration with physicians and other members of the critical care team.

It’s the job of an acute care nurse practitioner to help patients manage their symptoms, then prescribe a course of treatment and follow-up care. ACNPs are qualified to prescribe medications and instruct the patient on how to use them. They’ll also closely monitor the patient’s recovery and guide them to the best community health care programs upon their release from hospital.

The Role Of An Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Is More Important Than Ever

Today, with patients overwhelming the American health care system, the role of an ACNP is more important than ever. Their job is to quickly diagnose and treat patients so that they do not continue to clog up the emergency rooms and other critical care facilities.

ACNPs can provide the quality emergency care that is required, decrease the amount of time patients spend in hospitals and provide the reassurance that patients and their families need so they can quickly get on the road to recovery.

The addition of an ACNP to any health care team improves communication and overall patient care. General surgery acute care nurse practitioners assist surgeons during operations, oragnize appropriate after-surgery care and prescribe pain-relief medication.

ACNPs also serve as case managers and team leaders. ACNP duties at teaching hospitals tend to be quite extensive due to the advanced levels of nursing associated with this credential. They often lead research teams too.

To practice as an acute care nurse practitioner, you need to obtain your four-year Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree with specialized ACNP coursework plus hundreds of clinical study hours.

Most RNs study for their MSN degree while still working to become experts in the care of acutely ill patients, often with multiple and extremely complex problems medical conditions.

ACNP nursing programs focus on critical care, cardio-pulmonary care, and emergency department and trauma response. You’ll also receive academic and clinical training in advanced physical assessment and diagnosis, pharmacology, patient care management, lab and chest X-ray interpretation and education and research.

Neurosurgery, oncology and organ transplants are other areas of specialized critical hospital care that you will study to become a qualified acute care nurse practitioner. And obtain the skills to work in many hospital settings including cardiology, emergency units, nephrology, neurology and surgery.

Once you have finished your specialized ACNP nursing program, you must become certified by your State Board of Nursing or receive national certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

In 23 U.S. states, ACNPs can work autonomously and open their own clinical practices. In 28 states, ACNPs must work under the supervision of a physician. As a certified acute care nurse practitioner, you can also apply for and receive a DEA registration number that enables you to write prescriptions for federally-defined controlled medications in all states.

The skills of an acute care nurse practitioner are in high demand in the United States. Despite the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or ObamaCare, there are still millions of uninsured or under-insured people in America.

As they are unable to afford preventative or ongoing medical care, these people often simply go straight to emergency rooms and other acute care settings for treatment. ACNPs are in great demand in these hospital and medical facilities as they can provide the same care as a physician but at a much lower cost.

Becoming an acute care nurse practitioner is not easy. You will have to undertake many years of theoretical and clinical studies specializing in acute and critical care treatment. But the rewards are great and the job exciting and eventful.

Because of their high level of training and knowledge, an acute care nurse practitioner earns more money than most other nurses with salaries typically starting at around $90,650 a year.