ACNPC: Certification as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

The day you can sign your name with those beloved letters, “RN,” following your signature is a big deal for many nurses. You have worked hard to earn your nursing degree, and you are proud to be able to show off to the world what you have achieved. Finally being able to say or write “Sarah Jane Smith, RN” is worthy of bragging rights.

But just because you have achieved one career goal doesn’t mean you are done. Many nurses dream of adding more credentials to their signature after the “RN,” which could include earning your ACNPC. Certification as an acute care nurse practitioner allows you to pursue career opportunities otherwise unavailable to you.

ACNPC: Certification as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

What is ACNPC?

ACNPC stands for Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification.

ACNPs work with adults with chronic, acute, and critical health problems in a variety of environments. As a certified acute care nurse practitioner, you are able to:

  • Work in acute care settings with a fuller scope of practice than registered nurses without certification,
  • Have a higher earning potential, and
  • Have more employment opportunities.

You cannot become an acute care nurse practitioner in Indiana without first earning certification through the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).


The ACNPC exam is a three and a half hour test that focuses on adult-gerontology patients, including young adults, older adults, and the elderly.

Once you start the exam, you will answer 175 questions. Only 150 of these questions are scored, though. The other 25 questions are used to gather data for future exams.

These questions will assess:

  • Clinical judgement
  • Advocacy and moral agency
  • Caring practices
  • Collaboration
  • Systems thinking
  • Response to diversity
  • Facilitation of learning
  • Clinical inquiry (Innovator/Evaluator)

You can learn more about these Synergy Model characteristics on the AACN website.

ACNPC: Certification Requirements

In order to earn certification as an ACNP, you must first complete an acute care nurse practitioner program that meets the standards outlined by the AACN, such as Marquette University’s Adult-Older Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program.

Through Marquette’s ACNP program, you are able to continue working full-time while earning your Master of Science in Nursing degree online. Unlike other programs, Marquette’s ACNP program provides a preceptorship for you within the St.Vincent system, absolving you of the burden of finding one for yourself.

Additionally, ACNPC candidates must have an active, unrestricted RN license to sit for the exam.

Preparing for the ACNP Certification Exam

The AACN website provides a list of suggestions and resources for preparing for the certification exam. The first thing you should do when preparing for the ACNP certification exam is to purchase the exam handbook. This handbook comes with a study plan that you can stick to and stay organized and get prepared for the exam.

Other steps you can take to prepare for the ACNPC exam include:

  • Take practice questions
  • Utilize the exam reference when studying
  • Take a self-assessment exam
  • Sign up for an exam review course

You should consider starting to study for your exam as far ahead as possible. Create a schedule that allows you to study every day before your exam, take practice tests, and review old tests, quizzes, and classwork.

How Marquette Prepares You for ACNPC

Marquette University’s Adult-Older Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) program allows you to gain the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to successfully complete the ACNP certification and start your career as a nurse practitioner.

Online Learningonline learning nurse practitioner program

It may not seem possible to earn your MSN online- after all, nursing is about experience. While that’s true, students are able to complete all coursework online while completing a preceptorship within the St.Vincent Health network in Indianapolis.

Online courses consist of interactive learning modules, videos, class discussions, and peer support. The flexible, part-time online format allows you to fit your courses around your work schedule and personal responsibilities, so you can continue to work while earning your master’s degree in nursing.

Preceptorship at St.Vincent Health

Unlike other master’s-level nursing programs, Marquette’s Adult-Older Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program in Indianapolis provides a preceptorship for you at St.Vincent.

During your preceptorship, you will work closely with ACNPs in acute care settings to apply your knowledge to real-world settings. Through experiential learning, you will reinforce your theoretical knowledge and be prepared for the ACNPC examination.

Have questions about the ACNP program? Contact an admissions advisor today.

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