Online Post-Master’s Acute Care NP Programs – What’s the Best Program for You?

Last Updated/Verified: Aug 19, 2020

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) roles call to many nurses. In fact, many wish to add this specialization to their repertoire, or even switch to this specialty after they have already earned an MSN. This is the perfect scenario for the acute care nurse practitioner post-master’s certificate (sometimes referred to as an acute care nurse practitioner post-graduate certificate). In general, as an acute care nurse practitioner, you must hold a bachelor’s degree, have a current RN license and have earned either a Master’s of science in Nursing (MSN) degree or a doctoral degree (DNP) in order to obtain a post-master’s certificate in this specialty. 

Why Get a Post-Master’s Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate?

Opting for a post-master’s certificate degree provides you with two primary advantages. You’ll be able to work as an ACNP with a specific population, such as children or seniors, and follow your passions.

As a post-grad educated acute care nurse practitioner, you’ll be a valuable asset in any medical setting. For example, you might work as a wound care nurse practitioner in a post-acute or rehab facility, a critical care nurse in a hospital emergency room, or an acute nurse practitioner in a surgical setting.

Having a specialized certificate opens up many opportunities. Let’s take a look at why this educational pathway might work for you.

Pros

  • Quickest, easiest way to become an acute care nurse practitioner for those who already hold an MSN
  • The shortened curriculum generally makes the program much more affordable than a full degree program
  • Students can still opt to sub-specialize within a specific population

Cons

  • There may not be as many post-master’s certificate programs available compared to MSN or DNP routes
  • If you wish to pursue higher-level administrative or management roles, a DNP may be the better choice
  • This option is not available to nurses who don’t hold a graduate-level nursing degree

How to Choose an Online Post-Master’s ACNP Certificate Program

Making the decision to attain an acute care nurse practitioner post-master’s certificate requires an investment of time, money, and effort. The number of credit hours and the length of time required to complete them varies from program to program. Be sure to narrow down your search to schools that offer properly accredited programs.

Expect to complete an average of around 40 credit hours in order to earn a certificate. Some programs require fewer credit hours while others demand more.

Whether you take complete the program completely online or it requires an in-person portion, you’ll need to dedicate around 15 to 20 hours of effort to your studies each week.

Post-Master’s ACNP Certificate Curriculum

You’ll need to complete a mix of core courses and those that allow you to develop a deeper knowledge in a particular specialization. Professional Issues for Nurse Practitioners and Advanced Health Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning are core courses that are similar to those you’ll need to take.

Courses like Management and Care of Patients in Acute or Critical Care Medical Setting and Management and Care of Patients in Critical Care Settings provide you with a well-rounded educational foundation.

Clinical hours are a requirement of the ACNP post-master’s certificate program. Typically, over 600 direct-care clinical hours are required. Online students can arrange for their clinicals to take place in their local area, and sometimes even in the hospital or medical facility where they are currently employed.

List of Online Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Post-Master’s Certificate Programs

To find an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Post-Master’s Certificate program near you, browse our listings below.