Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are advanced healthcare practitioners with similar responsibilities, such as diagnosing illnesses and prescribing medications. However, their training and paths toward certification differ in significant ways. This blog post unpacks the key differences between NPs and PAs to help you determine which career path best aligns with your goals. What Is a Nurse Practitioner? A nurse practitioner (NP) is a licensed clinician who provides comprehensive healthcare to patients of all ages. An NP can work in virtually any healthcare setting, diagnosing patient conditions and prescribing medications. As of October 2022, nurse practitioners have full practice authority in 27 states, meaning that they can practice Read more
Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Role Specialty
With national shortages of nurses and physicians coinciding with the “silver tsunami” of aging baby boomers who have more complex healthcare needs, adult gerontology nurse practitioners (AGNPs) are in high demand. AGNPs manage the care of patients from young adulthood to old age. Top practice settings for AGNPs include hospital outpatient clinics, hospital inpatient units, and private group practices.
In our AGNP role specialty, you will learn protocols for assessing patients, diagnosing conditions, and prescribing medication and other treatments—as well as strategies for preventing illness and promoting wellness throughout adulthood. You’ll explore strategies for addressing the cultural, psychological, and social aspects of aging. You will also help meet society’s demand for more nurse practitioners. Employment of nurse practitioners is projected to grow a robust 45% during the current decade, 2020–2030.1
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) students at USAHS may pursue the AGNP specialty.
AGNP Role Specialty At a Glance
- Online coursework + one required on-campus clinical intensive
- 55 credit hours + 630 practicum contact hours
- 8 trimesters (2.7 years), although acceleration options are available*
- Sept., Jan. & May start dates, plus midterm starts
*Time to completion may vary by student, depending on individual progress, credits transferred, and other factors.
AGNP Clinical Intensive
The AGNP role specialty features one required clinical intensive, where you can fine-tune your advanced practice nursing skills in one of our state-of-the-art Centers for Innovative Clinical Practice. Guided by expert faculty, you will participate in simulated real-world clinical scenarios with your peers and receive personalized feedback and support. For example, you will learn to provide differential diagnoses, perform needle aspirations of joints, read x-rays, and suture the wounds of standardized patients.
This role specialty requires 600 clock hours of practica over three courses. You may complete your practica with a preceptor who is a nurse practitioner or other appropriate clinician and who meets accreditation and state licensure requirements. You’ll gain experiential learning about the role of an AGNP from a mentor who is working in this capacity. A dedicated advisor on our clinical education team will work with you to secure practica sites. (Students should plan on the need to travel and on some occasions, relocate for practica.)
Role Specialty Learning Outcomes
In addition to the program learning outcomes, graduates of the Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner role specialty are expected to achieve the following learning outcomes:
- Perform comprehensive health assessments that incorporate diagnostic reasoning and the interpretation of diagnostic procedures.
- Engage patients and families in planning for health promotion, prevention of disease or disease progression, and symptom management.
- Apply critical thinking in the diagnosis and problem identification of complex issues related to clinical practice, individuals, populations, and systems of care.
- Provide ethical, patient-centered care based on best evidence, clinician expertise, patient preference, and circumstances.
- Evaluate outcomes of care using individual and aggregate data.
- Implement the role of an adult gerontology nurse practitioner in a professional, respectful, and ethical manner.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners,” last modified Sept. 8, 2021: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm