A nurse meets with a patient.

Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Curriculum

Nursing: Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

The nurse practitioner field is booming and expected to experience strong growth for years to come. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth of 26% for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners between 2018 and 2028, substantially more than the 5% growth predicted for overall employment during that time. These statistics translate into a wealth of potential opportunities for individuals seeking an advanced career in nursing, including specializations in the nurse practitioner (NP) field.

One NP specialization is adult gerontology acute care that focuses on a wide range of patients from young adults to the elderly. Because of the broad scope of care, individuals serving in the role must be adept at handling many care-driven challenges that evolve over the course of a patient’s life.

Earning an advanced degree in nursing from an accredited university can be a fundamental step in gaining the knowledge and skills needed to provide effective care to this demographic. This is especially the case if the program offers an adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner curriculum. An advanced curriculum like that of Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Practitioner program, which offers an AGACNP track, can fully prepare nurses to be at the forefront of this vital area of care delivery.

What Does an Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Do?

A nurse practitioner who specializes in adult gerontology acute care delivers care to adult patients who have one or multiple acute conditions. Responsibilities of care involve not only treating the complexities of conditions when they manifest in a patient but also working with the patient on preventive measures that can mitigate the complications associated with the condition and improve overall health. For instance, an adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AGACNP) treating a patient with hypertension may work with the individual to build a proactive dietary strategy designed to reduce high blood pressure.

AGACNPs can work in a number of health care environments delivering a range of patient care. Most AGACNPs work in hospital settings such as intensive care units, emergency rooms, or facilities that administer acute or restorative care to patients dealing with illness, injury, or an aggravated existing condition. In these scenarios, AGACNPs work closely with physicians to create optimal care strategies designed to treat immediate issues. AGACNPs also can apply their skills to primary, long-term, or palliative care settings where they can establish ongoing nurse-patient care dynamic as part of long-term care strategies.

The specific range of duties that an AGACNP can execute depends on the state of practice. While some states grant AGACNPs full authority to administer care and prescribe medications independently, others require oversight by physicians.

Exploring the Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Curriculum

Becoming an AGACNP requires the completion of an advanced degree that deepens the skills crucial for delivering high-quality care to improve patient outcomes. For instance, an advanced degree can strengthen analytical and critical-thinking skills, which are necessary for diagnosing patient healthcare problems and deciding on the best treatment. An advanced degree can help nursing professionals improve communication skills, enabling them to relay crucial information to both patients and physicians in a clear manner that minimizes the chances for ambiguity and misinformation.

Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Practitioner program helps students build these core competencies to make a positive impact on a facility’s care delivery and patient outcomes. The program’s Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner track helps students gain expertise in several areas relevant to providing high-quality adult gerontology care such as epidemiology, patient safety, and pharmacology. It also helps students develop the foundational elements of care delivery in numerous settings.

Some of the core and track courses offered through Norwich University’s Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner curriculum include the following:

  • Epidemiology and Population Health. This core course provides an understanding of how epidemiology can help NPs characterize and promote health within the population. The course also covers how students may relate foundational epidemiological concepts through the application of primary, secondary, and tertiary health promotion.
  • Quality Improvement and Patient Safety. This core course explores the relationship between the science of quality improvement and keeping patients safe as well as how this relationship can impact a facility’s care delivery. The curriculum covers how various analytical models can address quality improvement strategies.
  • Advanced Pharmacology—Population Focus: Adult and Geriatric. This course from the AGACNP track offers an overview of key drug classifications related to adult and geriatric populations. Coursework focuses on pharmacology-related concepts such as evidence-based prescribing, side effects and drug interactions, and medication usage in an overall care plan.
  • Adult Geriatric Acute Care I—IV. This quartet of track courses focuses on how theory, assessment, and diagnosis related to effective evidence-based practice. Each course progressively builds on the study of these concepts. Later courses focus on the management of acute and chronic health programs.
  • Adult Geriatric Acute Care Clinical I—IV. These four-track courses provide students with the opportunity to gain AGACNP experience in an intense clinical setting, with each course progressively building on this experience. The instructors in these courses may include adult and family nurse practitioners or physicians practicing in the setting.

The Future of Acute Care NPs in Adult Gerontology

AGACNPs are entering the field at a critical time. The United States currently has more citizens over the age of 65 than at any other time in history, with this number projected to increase. The United States Census Bureau anticipates that 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 and older by 2030, making it a larger demographic than those under-18 for the first time. This change in demographics will pose significant challenges to the health care industry.

Another significant challenge is the projected shortage of nurses and physicians, especially as the aging nursing workforce retires. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a robust job market for nurse practitioners to fill in the gaps left by nursing retirees. According to data gathered by the American Nurses Association, one-third of nurses will reach retirement age within the next 15 years. This situation, combined with the large influx of older patients and issues pertaining to nurse burnout, creates a need for highly-qualified nurse leaders.

The Association of American Medical Colleges projects a concurrent physician shortage of as many as 121,900 primary and specialty care physicians by 2032. As more states push toward allowing NPs to have total practice and prescription authority, the unique knowledge and skills offered by AGACNPS can play a vital role in providing optimal care for the growing cohort of older patients.

Make a Significant Impact in Health Care

AGACNPs can not only fill a need for health care professionals, they also can use their knowledge and skills to shape the future of care delivery that helps facilities improve patient outcomes with greater efficiency.

Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Practitioner program and its Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner track can help nurses advanced their degrees and specialize in a profession that makes a difference in the future of healthcare. Learn how the core and concentration courses found in the Norwich curriculum can prepare you in achieving a satisfying career in health care.

Recommended Readings
Achieving Your Educational Goals: The Ultimate Guide to Getting the Most from a Master’s Degree
Nurse Educator vs. Nurse Practitioner: Comparing Two Key Health Care Careers
Nurse Manager vs. Nurse Leader

Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Are You Considering a Career as an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner? American Association of Nurse Practitioners
Making the Case for Adult-Gerontology Critical Care Nurse Practitioner Fellowships, The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing
Nurse Practitioners Overview, Scope of Practice Policy
Master of Science in Nursing: Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Norwich University
Nursing Shortage, StatPearls Publishing
Age 65+ Adults Are Projected to Outnumber Children by 2030, AARP
America’s Aging Population Is Leading to a Doctor Shortage Crisis, CNBC

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