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AGNP-AC Overview

The mission of the University of Iowa Adult/Geriatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program (AG-ACNP) is to educate nurses, through didactic instruction and clinical experiences, to enable them to successfully manage complex acute, critical and chronic health problems in adults and older adults. The AG-ACNP role emphasizes care of those who are physiologically unstable, technologically dependent, require frequent monitoring and intervention, and are highly vulnerable for complications. Graduates meet nationally vetted competencies which prepare them to work in a variety of settings where patients with these needs are found. University of Iowa DNP-AG-ACNP graduates are eligible to sit for certification examinations offered by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses Certification Corporation (AACN) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Our goal is to prepare clinical leaders within the profession and U.S. health care system.

Program Design
The College of Nursing offers several AG-ACNP options, including three pathways to a clinical doctorate as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and two Post Graduate Certificates (PGC).

  • The post BSN to DNP program focuses on educating students in the DNP and AG-ACNP population competencies. Students can choose a 3 or 4 year plan of study.
  • A two-year post MSN to DNP program for APRNs is offered for those who have completed a master’s degree and obtained AG-ACNP certification and would like to obtain a clinical doctorate.  The College offers a curriculum which allows students to master DNP competencies not attained during their prior master’s education.
  • A two- or three- year  post MSN without APRN preparation to DNP program includes preparation for certification as a AG-ACNP as well as receiving the DNP. The College offers a curriculum which allows students to master DNP as well as AG-ACNP population competencies not attained during their prior master’s education.
  • A post Graduate Certificate of up to fourteen months (4 semesters) for MSN prepared primary care certified nurse practitioners (NPs) who would like to meet AG-ACNP competencies and meet eligibility requirements for certification as a AG-ACNP. A Gap Analysis which examines prior MSN course work and NP competencies may allow a student to complete this program in eleven months (three semesters).

Benefits of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
The American Association of College of Nursing has recommended the DNP as the graduate degree of choice for advanced practice nurses. The University of Iowa College of Nursing was one of the first in the nation to receive approval for the DNP from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) in 2009.

In a landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, the Institute of Medicine recommended that “Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training; and, be full partners in redesigning health care in the United States.” The DNP degree will allow AG-ACNPs to be full partners in the developing health care system of the future and to provide the high quality, cost-efficient care for which nurse practitioners (NPs) are known.

Program Sequence
The curriculum follows the University of Iowa academic calendar. You will receive a week off at Thanksgiving, a month for winter break, and a week at Spring break and two weeks between the spring and summer terms as well as summer and fall terms.

Post BSN to DNP option: The University of Iowa AG-ACNP post BSN to DNP will involve either 3- or 4-years of intense academic study and clinical experiences (see plans of study). The curriculum is a hybrid model (both on-site and online coursework) designed to be completed in either a three- or four-year period, starting each August.

The initial portion of the plans of study provides you with courses that provide a solid foundation in advance nursing practice where you will learn from experts in various content areas. You will follow your cohort through the entire program but in these first two years you will be introduced and develop relationships with others in enrolled in the Health Systems/Administration,  Nurse Anesthesia, Pediatric Primary and Pediatric Acute Care NP, Family and Adult/Geriatric Primary Care NP, and the Psychiatric/Mental Health NP tracks. This foundation will prepare you for the 3rd year of clinical training and for future practice as a full partner in the future health system.

The middle and final portions begins your intense population focused training in the AG-ACNP field. During the fall, spring and summer semesters you will be required to complete between 270 and 180 clinical hours each term along with didactic coursework. At the University of Iowa, you will receive exceptional clinical training in varied settings including hospitalist, medical and surgical specialties, and critical care services. Clinical experiences are offered at a variety of teaching and community hospitals across the state of Iowa. Based on input obtained from you, the DNP-AG-ACNP program at Iowa will match you with a preceptor and arrange your clinical experiences through the expertise of Angela Melsa-Worrell, clinical coordinator, and Dr. Julie Stanik-Hutt, Director. You will be guided through the program and clinical experiences, working toward graduation, to provide you with the skills to enter practice as an AG-ACNP.

In the spring semester before graduation AG-ACNP students present and defend their DNP projects. Sample projects can be found here

Dual Certification (AG-ACNP plus another NP population focus) Post BSN to DNP:  The University of Iowa is also excited to offer plans of study for Dual Certification with AG-ACNP specialization. This is an extremely intense plan of study where an eligible person could be ready for national certification as an NP in Adult/Geriatric Acute Care along with one of the following specialization: Adult/Gero Primary Care NP, Family NP, Pediatric Primary Care NP, Pediatric Acute Care NP or Psychiatric/Mental Health NP. This is done in four years and graduates with a DNP as well. Due to the intensity of this plan of study it is recommended that the individual who undertakes this feat would solely focus on their academic and clinical training; however, the individuals who complete this dual certification would be allowed to define their practices as they see fit. They would also be known for their level expertise in more than just one area of specialization. These individuals would be defined by their exceptionalism.

Post MSN to DNP and Post MSN/APRN to DNP options: The University of Iowa AG-ACNP program offers a hybrid Post MSN to DNP plan of study for those with a MSN and AG-ACNP certification, who would like to complete their DNP. This option is fully online and can be completed in two years. Graduates are already certified NPs and are not required to pursue additional certification upon completion of the DNP.

The University of Iowa also offers a Post MSN/APRN to DNP curriculum to those with a MSN, but without prior APRN preparation, who wish to obtain APRN preparation as an AG-ACNP as well as completing the DNP.  This hybrid option can require three years to complete. Successful completion of this option will enable graduates to meet AG-ACNP certification examination eligibility requirements established by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses Certification Corporation (AACN) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Post Graduate Certificates: The University of Iowa AG-ACNP program offers master’s or doctorally prepared certified primary care NPs a plan of study to receive a post graduate certificate in Adult/Geriatric Acute Care. This option is designed for those wanting a second APRN certification. The plan of study for this hybrid program starts in June and finishes in the summer of your second year (4 semesters total). A Gap Analysis completed by College faculty during the admission’s process, will determine if prior MSN course work and demonstrated NP competencies may allow a student to complete the program in less time. During this training you meet the same population competencies and are provided the same didactic instruction and clinical experiences as post BSN to DNP students.  Successful completion of this option will enable graduates to meet AG-ACNP certification examination eligibility requirements established by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses Certification Corporation (AACN) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

The academic and clinical experience you receive in the Iowa DNP AG-ACNP program surpasses all certification examination eligibility requirements of the AACN and ANCC. The Iowa program has a strong reputation for preparing remarkable AG-ACNP clinicians who can practice throughout the state of Iowa and across the nation. The future is bright for AG-ACNPs in the U.S. health care system and very bright for Iowa DNP AG-ACNPs who are prepared to be leaders within that system.