MSN in Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs Online

MSN in Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs Online

Online acute care nurse practitioner programs prepare RNs to stabilize and treat patients suffering from severe or life-threatening illnesses. Many of these programs also offer clinical practicums, which allow nurses to apply classroom knowledge in real-world medical settings.

An MSN in acute care nurse practitioner online programs prepare nurses to care for various patient groups, from adult-gerontology to pediatrics. Learn what to expect from these courses below.

What You Will Learn

When you complete an MSN in the acute care nurse practitioner program online, you will be qualified to provide advanced nursing care for patients with severe and life-threatening health conditions. This role requires a blend of critical thinking skills, medical knowledge, and advanced nursing practice. Depending on the scope of practice, some ACNPs may also perform specific invasive medical procedures, such as inserting central and arterial lines.

Students enrolled in an online AGACNP or PACNP degree program typically start their studies with core graduate-level nursing courses. These courses introduce students to advanced nursing topics such as human physiology, health policy, and research methods.

Then, students move on to coursework, focusing on their specialization area. For example, a student pursuing an online MSN in adult gerontology acute care will take advanced courses like pathophysiology and management of complex acute illnesses and chronic health conditions.

Admissions Requirements

If you are considering an online acute care nurse practitioner program, research schools like Arkansas State University carefully. It would help if you met certain criteria, such as having a registered nursing license, completing at least two years of relevant work experience in a health-related field, and being prepared for an admissions interview. Some programs also require applicants to complete a personal statement demonstrating why they are the best candidates.

Some programs offer a hybrid option that combines on-campus skills training with an online learning environment. Some include a daylong session during which students learn hands-on techniques like central line insertion while the rest of their coursework is online. Other online RN to ACNP programs offer an MSN to DNP pathway, allowing students with a master’s degree in another NP specialty to earn a DNP while adding the acute care specialization. This option is typically intended for RNs who want to advance into leadership roles.


With a faculty mentor and preceptor, you’ll hone your nursing skills in a clinical setting. You’ll also take advanced courses in nursing theory, pathophysiology, and the care of acutely ill patients.

You may also pursue an MSN with a concentration in adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner. This specialty prepares you to treat adolescent and adult patients who are experiencing a critical illness or exacerbation of chronic health issues such as diabetes or congestive heart failure.

Other online MSN programs include pediatric acute care nurse practitioner and emergency acute care nurse practitioner options. These programs prepare you to provide healthcare to infants, children, and adolescents who have experienced or are facing acute medical conditions such as respiratory infections or trauma. The curriculum includes coursework and clinicals in various settings, including hospitals, emergency departments, intensive care units, skilled nursing facilities, and community-based practices. Most MSN programs require around 60 credits and clinical practice hours.

Final Exam

If you are a registered nurse who wants to work in acute care, there are several options for obtaining an MSN degree online. These programs generally accept RNs from various backgrounds, including those with an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN).

Some online AGACNP and PACNP programs offer a generalized curriculum, while others allow students to choose an academic focus. Common areas of study include adult gerontology, pediatrics, and women’s health.

As with on-campus programs, most NP online graduate programs will require that students complete clinical preceptorships at approved sites in their local communities. These typically occur in emergency rooms, intensive care units, and other specialty medical and surgical centers.

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