Monday, June 03, 2024

How to Become an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)

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If you're passionate about caring for adults and older adults with complex medical challenges, then becoming an AGACNP could be your dream career. AGACNPs are highly skilled medical professionals who diagnose, treat, and manage acute illnesses and injuries in adult patients. This comprehensive guide will break down the process of becoming an AGACNP. 

Elevate Your Nursing Career with a BSN

Obtaining a BSN is a critical step that lays the foundation for advanced nursing practice. BSN stands for Bachelor of Science in Nursing and takes about four years to complete. It will enable you to easily access the basic information or clinical skills necessary for a nursing career. It'll prepare you for the advanced roles and responsibilities of an AGACNP. 

Become a Licensed Registered Nurse (RN)

After completing your BSN, you need to successfully complete the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become a licensed Registered Nurse (RN).  

Passing the NCLEX-RN exam unlocks your career as a Registered Nurse, empowering you to make a real difference in people's lives. The license allows you to practice as an RN and gain the clinical experience necessary for advanced practice roles.

Gain Clinical Experience 

Gaining clinical experience as an RN, preferably in acute care settings such as hospitals, ICUs, or emergency departments, is crucial before applying to an AGACNP program. This experience helps you develop essential skills and prepares you for the advanced responsibilities of an AGACNP.

Pursue a Graduate Degree

The next step is to enroll in a graduate program specializing in adult-gerontology acute care. You can choose between a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. Many aspiring AGACNPs opt for AGACNP online programs due to their flexibility and convenience, allowing them to balance work, study, and personal commitments.

Complete Clinical Training

Graduate programs for AGACNPs include extensive clinical training, where you'll work under the supervision of experienced practitioners in acute care settings. AGACNP programs require the completion of a specified number of clinical hours under the supervision of experienced practitioners. These hours are crucial for developing advanced clinical skills and gaining experience in managing acute and complex conditions.

Obtain Certification

After completing your graduate program, you must obtain certification from a recognized certifying body, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). This involves passing a comprehensive exam that tests your adult gerontology acute care knowledge and skills.

Obtain State Licensure

In addition to national certification, you must also obtain state licensure to practice as an AGACNP. Requirements vary by state, so you must check with your nursing board for specific licensure requirements.

Seek Employment 

With your certification and state licensure, you can seek employment as an AGACNP. Opportunities are available in various settings, including hospitals, intensive care units, specialty clinics, and more. Tailor your job search to your areas of interest and expertise. 

Pursue Continuing Education 

Healthcare is constantly evolving, and AGACNPs must engage in lifelong learning to stay current with the latest practices and advancements in the field. This can involve obtaining continuing education credits, attending workshops and conferences, and participating in professional development opportunities.

Join Professional Organizations

Joining professional organizations such as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA) provides networking opportunities, resources for continuing education, and advocacy for the profession. These organizations can enhance your career development and keep you informed about industry trends. 


Becoming an AGACNP is a rewarding career that allows you to make a significant impact on the lives of adult and elderly patients. By following these 10 steps, from earning your BSN to committing to ongoing professional development, you'll be well-equipped to excel in this advanced nursing role. Explore AGACNP online programs to find flexible educational options.

Amy Wilson is a passionate health writer dedicated to making complex medical topics accessible and engaging and covers a wide range of topics from nutrition and fitness to mental health and wellness.

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