Online Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs – A Comprehensive Review

Online acute care nurse practitioner programs are convenient for nurses who want to advance in their careers. Typically, these programs require a minimum of an MSN and a current, unencumbered registered nurse license.

RNs interested in this career track can find programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate levels. Students can also choose between the adult gerontology and pediatric acute care nurse practitioner pathways.

Nurse Practitioner


The acute care nurse practitioner programs online are often offered through nursing schools accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Since only approved courses are considered for state licensure and board certification, this is crucial information for choosing a school.

Most online NP programs are structured like their on-campus counterparts, with roughly 48 credits required and mandatory clinical hours. In addition, many online acute care nurse practitioner programs offer part-time study options.

Students can pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). The MSN track usually offers the option to specialize in pediatric acute care nurse practitioner or adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner. The DNP pathway offers advanced training in leadership and research, enabling nurses to provide the highest level of patient care possible. Both types of programs have a strong focus on patient-centered, evidence-based practice.


Online nurse practitioner degrees offer the flexibility of distance education to accommodate busy schedules. The programs are usually accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and prepare nurses for advanced practice roles, such as acute care nurse practitioners.

The curriculum combines asynchronous didactic content with synchronous classes and in-person objective clinical intensives.

The price of an online degree can differ significantly between universities, and you should find out if the program demands a lot of time spent on campus or if you can do most of your courses at home. Depending on your circumstances, you can get financial assistance for tuition by applying for loans or grants. You can find details on scholarships and other aid options in our comprehensive guide to financial assistance for graduate school. If you are specifically looking for affordable options, consider exploring information on the lowest tuition colleges in Massachusetts.


Online acute care nurse practitioner programs prepare nurses for working with critically ill patients in a fast-paced environment. Graduates have the skills to perform physical examinations, prescribe medication, and order diagnostic tests to help diagnose medical conditions.

Acute care nurse practitioners often work in emergency rooms, intensive care units, outpatient clinics, and skilled nursing facilities. Some ACNPs also choose to focus their practice on adult gerontology or pediatrics. Most online ACNP programs require registered nurses to have at least a bachelor’s degree and to be licensed as an RN. They also typically ask candidates to participate in an admissions interview and to submit a personal statement of purpose.

Online acute care nurse practitioner program classes are often taught through a university’s learning management system and may be live-streamed or recorded. Many schools have partnerships with local hospitals and medical centers that students use for their hands-on clinical training. Full-time and part-time study options are available.

Career Opportunities

Working as an acute care nurse practitioner can be rewarding for nurses who enjoy treating patients with severe medical conditions. Online RN-to-ACNP programs allow registered nurses to further their careers by earning a graduate degree while continuing to work.

Choosing the right online program is essential for students considering this career path. When reviewing prospective programs, it is recommended that potential students look for accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Council for Education in Nursing (ACEN). A school vetted by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses may also be a good fit.

Online RN-to-ACNP programs usually require that applicants have at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing. However, some accept graduates with an associate’s degree in nursing (ASN) or a diploma from a hospital program. Additionally, most programs expect current registered nurses to hold an active license. However, online learning offers students flexibility in scheduling courses and assignments around their busy schedules.

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