November 4, 2017

From Bedside Nurse ➡️ NP Student: Choosing A Program

Many people ask me why I chose to do a dual-program instead of a particular track. I decided on the dual-program track (Family NP/Adult-Gerontological Acute Care) because my goal is to work in the intensive care setting and the emergency department. Adult, general intensive care units treat individuals 18 years of age or older, while most emergency departments treat individuals across the lifespan. Many emergency departments (in my area - Central Florida) hired Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs), and the credential was previously sufficient. Now, those same institutions are now requiring FNPs (who work in emergency departments) to return to school and obtain Adult-Gerontological Acute Care (AGACNP) certification. This isn't the standard nationwide (I don't believe), but it is a trend I see in my local area, hence the dual-role choice. While researching the different nurse practitioner tracks, I found that understanding your patient population was crucial.

FNPs treat individuals across the lifespan, while AGACNPs usually treat individuals 18 years of age or older. You must understand your scope of practice and what environment your credentials will be applicable within. AGACNPs can't care for neonates, and a neonatal nurse-practitioner can't care for elderly individuals. Each track has specific patient populations and scopes of practice. Each track requires a particular set of skills and education based on that distinct community. The requirements are continually changing, and if you want to remain competitive, you must roll with the punches. If you're a student looking to go back to graduate school, I recommend you do your research regarding each track and what patient population the credentials will satisfy. I've seen FNPs unable to get jobs at certain hospitals (in critical care) because they lacked the AGACNP credential. I've seen AGACNPs unable to get as-needed (PRN) positions (with varying disciplines) because the positions covered the pediatric population. And, I've even witnessed FNPs unable to get jobs working with neonatologists. It's all about the patient population, scope of practice, and institutional standards. Know what will be expected of you before you spend thousands and thousands of dollars on the wrong track. Are there locations where these rules won't apply? Of course. Private practices and some institutions have different standards and requirements. But I wanted to graduate with as many opportunities as possible. What are the different tracks you ask? Here are just a few...

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
  • Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP)
  • Certified Nurse Midwifery (CNM)
  • Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (MHNP)
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner WHNP)
  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PACNP)
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PPCNP)
  • Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)
  • Adult-Gerontological Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP)