Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP) Graduate Certificate Programs
Nurse Practitioner (NP) graduate certificate programs with an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP) specialization offer a curriculum that prepares Registered Nurses (RNs) who have already completed a graduate degree with the instruction and training required to become licensed AGPCNPs. These programs provide nurses who hold a graduate degree in nursing, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, with a streamlined pathway to advancing into the AGPCNP role without having to repeat courses previously completed as part of a prior graduate program. As a result, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) who did not specialize in adult-gerontology primary care, as well as graduate-trained RNs in non-APRN specializations, can complete only the courses and clinical rotations necessary to qualify for AGPCNP licensure and/or certification.
These programs, which may be referred to as graduate, post-graduate, or post-MSN certificate programs, can be completed in one to two years as opposed to the two, three, or more years it typically takes to earn a graduate degree in the AGPCNP specialization.
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nursing Explained
NPs are RNs who are trained in advanced physiology, patient assessment, and pharmacology. They are thus qualified to perform physical exams, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe various treatments and medications, subject to the prescriptive authority granted by the state in which they are licensed. The adult-gerontology primary care specialization indicates that an NP’s scope of practice encompasses a broad range of responsibilities involving the treatment of adolescent, adult, and aging patient populations across the continuum of care, in hospitals and medical centers, clinics and private medical practices, and residential and long-term treatment facilities. For example, AGPCNPs typically collaborate with other medical professionals in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of chronic and episodic health conditions. They are often among the first primary-care medical professionals to consult with adult patients regarding general wellness and preventative care measures. The training AGPCNPs receive is designed to ensure that they are proficient in the use of medical tests and technologies to assess non-critical patients and diagnose common illnesses.
Identifying and Classifying AGPCNP Graduate Certificate Programs
There are several identifying characteristics of AGPCNP certificate programs that delineate these programs from other types of graduate certificate and degree programs in nursing. Like AGPCNP MSN and DNP programs, AGPCNP certificate programs provide advanced, graduate-level training in the adult-gerontology primary care specialty. However, certificate programs do not culminate with the conferral of an academic degree, and thus require only a fraction of the coursework needed to complete a full MSN or DNP program.
These programs are offered by regionally accredited colleges, universities, and schools of nursing and medicine that have programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). AGPCNP certificate programs typically consist of several MSN-level courses in AGPCNP principles and practices, as well as supervised clinical training in AGPCNP settings. They usually do not require the general advanced nursing courses and clinicals that are integral to MSN and DNP program curricula, because RNs who enroll in a certificate program are expected to have completed most if not all of these requirements during their previous graduate program(s). Indeed, AGPCNP certificate programs are commonly designated as postgraduate or post-master’s certificate programs to indicate that they are designed for RNs who already hold an MSN or DNP degree. ACPCNP certificate programs may also be designated as post-professional certificate programs, indicating that RNs are expected to have completed a year or more of post-MSN/DNP work experience prior to enrolling in the program.
Among AGPCNP graduate certificate programs there are three basic types, each of which has different admission requirements and different curriculum requirements:
- Post-MSN AGPCNP certificate programs that accept RNs who have completed an MSN in any specialization
- Post-MSN AGPCNP certificate programs that require RNs to hold an MSN degree and to be licensed in an NP/APRN specialty
- Post-MSN AGPCNP certificate programs that require applicants have prior training/licensure in a specific NP/APRN specialty (for example, programs designed specifically for adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioners who want to be come AGPCNPs)
It should be noted that nurses with an MSN or DNP degree and training in an APRN specialty are typically eligible to apply to any program that fits the first two types listed above, whereas master’s trained RNs who are not licensed as an APRN should look for programs that will accept students with any type of MSN degree. As discussed in more detail below, the curriculum for APRNs pursuing an AGPCNP certificate program should the similar regardless of the program type.
AGPCNP Graduate Certificate Coursework
Training to become an AGPCNP has three primary components: general advanced practice nursing coursework in advanced physiology, advanced pharmacology, and advanced patient assessment, specialized coursework in the primary care of adult-gerontology patients, and supervised adult-gerontology clinical training. Nurses who complete these requirements are then eligible to apply for AGPCNP licensure in their state and for the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (AGPCNP-BC) credential awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). AGPCNP graduate certificate programs are designed to ensure that students have completed a curriculum that aligns with state licensing requirements and ANCC guidelines for professional training in the AGPCNP specialty.
The specific coursework and the number of clinical hours an individual student must complete to earn an AGPCNP graduate certificate varies by program and is typically based on several other factors, including specific state licensing requirements and a gap analysis conducted by a program administrator. The term gap analysis refers to the process by which each student’s prior academic and clinical training is taken into account in order to determine the courses and clinical hours he or she will be required to complete as part of the certificate program in order to qualify for licensure and/or professional certification. RNs who have already taken general advanced practice nursing coursework (e.g., advanced physiology, advanced pharmacology, advanced patient assessment, differential diagnosis, and/or clinical decision making) are typically exempted from having to take these courses again as part of the graduate certificate program.
Similarly, RNs may be credited with prior supervised clinical hours if those hours were completed in an adult-gerontology primary care setting. NPs are generally expected to have completed a minimum of 500 clinical hours in their area of specialization in order to attain eligibility for state licensure, and the ANCC requires 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours for the AGPCNP-BC credential.
Regardless of prior training and coursework, students in an AGPCNP graduate certificate program take several courses that cover topics in adult-gerontology primary care principles and practices. These courses are often paired with clinical rotations in which students apply what they are learning to patient care in a supervised adult-gerontology primary care setting. Among the types of courses commonly required by AGPCNP graduate certificate programs are the following (course titles and descriptions vary by program, as do specific curricular requirements):
- Advanced Practice Nursing in Primary Care Adolescents and Adult Patients – An exploration of the role of the AGPCNP and common adolescent and adult health concerns AGPCNPs encounter.
- Advanced Practice Nursing in Primary Care in Older Adult Patients – An overview of common health issues, illnesses, and diseases in aging adult populations and the elderly, with a focus on the AGPCNPs role in recognizing and managing these health concerns.
- Women’s Health for the Advanced Practice Nurse – An introduction to common health issues faced by women and the role of the AGPCNP in addressing these issues.
Online AGPCNP Post-Graduate Certificate Programs
In order to provide working RNs with a more flexible and convenient alternative to traditional campus-based graduate certificate programs, many schools have leveraged digital distance-based learning technologies to offer AGPCNP graduate certificate programs in various online formats. Online instruction also serves to extend the reach of a nursing school’s graduate certificate programs to out-of-state students and to students who cannot or would prefer not to commute to a campus for classes. This is particularly beneficial for students in rural areas or those who do not live near a college that offers these programs.
Online programs utilize web-based learning management systems (LMSs) as an interface for lectures, teaching modules, and other instructional activities. An LMS is essentially an interactive platform that students can log onto using a secure internet connection, and which delivers real-time and/or pre-recorded lectures and other course materials. Indeed, there are two primary modes of online instruction that a program’s LMS may support: synchronous instruction, which takes place in real-time; and asynchronous instruction, which does not have a real-time component. While both modes of instruction are effective, synchronous instruction requires students to be logged on to a program’s LMS at specific times in order to view lectures and/or participate in virtual class sessions and therefore offers less scheduling flexibility than asynchronous instruction. However, asynchronous instruction requires more self-discipline and self-motivation as it is inherently less structured, and therefore it may be less appealing to students who prefer to have scheduled class times.
Among programs that utilize online instruction, there are two general classifications: fully or mostly online programs; and hybrid or blended online programs. A fully online program provides all or most of its didactic instruction via distance-learning. While many of these programs do not require students to attend any campus-based sessions, some integrate campus visits into their curriculum. These campus visits may include orientations, workshops, seminars, hands-on labs, and other instructional activities that benefit from having students on campus. However, they require travel and may be inconvenient for students who are working full time and/or do not live near the school offering the program. While there is no set standard for how schools must name their programs, GraduateCertificates.com classifies programs as online if they require three or fewer campus-visits per year.
Hybrid or blended online programs utilize a mix of online and campus-based instruction. They offer more convenience and flexibility than traditional, campus-based programs, and may be ideal for students who intend to continue working full-time while completing the program and who live within commuting distance of the school’s campus. However, hybrid and blended online programs generally require students to be on campus multiple times per semester and thus may not be practical for students who have to travel long distances to attend classes in person.
It is important to note that, regardless of whether or a program is offered online, on campus, or in a hybrid/blended format, students are required to complete supervised clinical hours in-person at program-approved sites in order to earn an AGPCNP graduate certificate. Online programs typically allow students to complete clinical hours locally; however, potential applicants to online graduate certificate programs may want to contact program administrators regarding clinical placements and the placement process in order to ensure that a convenient site for their clinical hours can be found prior to submitting an application*.
Examples of Online Post-MSN AGPCNP Graduate Certificate Programs
The programs listed below are representative of the types of AGPCNP graduate certificate programs that have CCNE or AACN accreditation and which are currently offered online by accredited, non-profit colleges and universities.
Maryville University in St. Louis, MO offers an online Post-Master’s Nurse Practitioner Certificate program with an AGPCNP specialization. The program is designed for RNs who have an MSN or DNP degree in any specialization. The AGPCNP concentration is comprised of four courses, two of which require the completion of a clinical practicum. Students who are not APRNs may be required to complete additional coursework, subject to a gap analysis. The Maryville program does not require any campus visits and allows students to complete clinical hours locally. For more information on the program, visit Maryville’s online nursing program at online.maryville.edu.
Duke University in North Carolina offers an online Post-Graduate Nursing Certificate with an AGPCNP specialization through the Duke University School of Nursing. The program is designed to accommodate students who hold an MSN degree regardless of their area of specialization, but it is recommended that applicants have at least one year of prior experience in nursing before enrolling in the program. The program’s core AGPCNP requirements include three courses and two clinical practicums. Students in the program are not required to attend any campus visits and can complete clinical rotations near their place of residence. For further details, visit the Duke University School of Nursing at nursing.duke.edu.
Purdue University Global, which is part of Indiana’s Purdue University System of public universities, offers an online Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Postgraduate Certificate program. The program, which does not require any campus visits, is designed for RNs who have already completed NP or APRN specialty training in another APRN specialization, as well as MSN and DNP graduates who do not have an APRN specialization. For more information on the program, visit Purdue University Global at www.purdueglobal.edu.
More Graduate Certificates in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
*For various reasons, online AGPCNP graduate certificate programs may not accept applicants from all 50 states. Therefore, students should speak with an admissions advisor about eligibility requirements before applying to an online program offered by an out-of-state school. In addition, because licensing requirements for APRNs, including AGPCNPs, vary by state, students should review their state’s policies and procedures regarding licensing prior to applying to an out-of-state online program as well.
Additional Graduate Certificates in Nursing
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- Nursing Administration Graduate Certificate Programs
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