Acute Care Nurse Practitioners

An Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) is a registered nurse who improves outcomes of acutely and critically ill patients and their families. The ACNP practice includes independent and interdependent decision making; and is directly accountable for clinical judgments. The ACNP can legally diagnose and treat medical conditions. Restorative care is the focus of the ACNP, and short-term goals include patient stabilization, minimization of complications, and promotion of physical and psychological well-being. The long-term goal is to restore maximal health potential while evaluating risk factors in achieving this outcome. The structure of the role depends upon the collaborative agreement with physicians and other members of the health care team. ACNPs may practice in various settings that include the emergency department, ICU, specialty labs, acute and sub-acute care wards, specialty clinics, or any combination of the above. An ACNP practices in neonatal, pediatric, and adult wards. Each ward has different specifications for an ACNP and has different exams as well. A few job duties and influences an ACNPs have are:

  • Improved quality care
  • Decreasing the patients length of stay
  • Improves patient and family satisfaction
  • Improves communication of healthcare team
  • Manages patient care
  • Utilizes invasive interventions and procedures to promote physiologic stability
  • Provides continuous and comprehensive care


The Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) is a RN prepared in a graduate level acute care nurse practitioner program to provide and manage health care of acutely ill, critically or chronically ill adult patients in a wide range of settings. The program is usually one year long or may be included in the nurse practitioner (NP) program. The graduate level preparation expands the ACNP's role to include differential diagnosis and disease management and combines advanced critical care knowledge from the physiological and psychosocial sciences. Studies also include diagnostic and therapeutic interventions to manage acute and critical health problems. Nurses learn to alleviate patient and family suffering, and facilitate ethical decision making, and get prepared for national certification.

Salary for an ACNP starts around $61,000 for entry level and up to $95,000 for an experienced ACNP.

American Nurses Credentialing Center, 2009 Pay Scale
Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, 2009