Top 10 Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs

There’s a lot to consider in choosing an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program.  Are you willing to relocate for your education?  Which programs offer the best preparation for your real-life clinical practice?  How much will your NP education cost?  Fortunately, there are many Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs that offer students both quality and flexibility in their education preparing them well for life as an NP.

One important thing to consider in making your NP program selection is pass rate on the national NP certification exam.  This is a good indicator of how well NP programs prepare students for their future careers.  Another is flexibility.  Many NP programs are now offered online allowing students to complete their education while maintaing employment.  In choosing a nurse practitioner program, don’t forget to consider how the program’s clinical experience operates.  Some programs secure clinical preceptorships for students while other do not.  If you attend a school that does not arrange preceptorships for students, this can be a major stressor during your education.

We’ve asked Acute Care NP programs across the country about these aspects of their programs pulling together a list of the top schools for aspiring Acute Care NPs.  Here are our top picks.

1. Duke University

Duke University’s commitment to quality and flexibility makes their Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program a top pick.  While the program has traditionally been offered on-campus, Duke is expanding the program to accommodate online students beginning in fall 2014.  Students may complete Duke’s Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program on a part-time or full-time basis.  No only do students have plenty of options when it comes to completing the ACNP program at Duke, 99 percent of graduates pass the national certification exam as well as find jobs working as nurse practitioners within six months of graduation.  Faculty assign Duke nursing students to clinical assignments helping ensure an on-time graduation.

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2. University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania’s Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program is all around solid.  Penn nursing faculty realize that securing clinical placements is essential for a quality NP education but can be a challenge for students to do on their own.  So, Penn makes a commitment to matching clinical preceptors to each student.  As a result of this quality education, 100 percent of the University of Pennsylvania’s ACNP graduates pass the national certification exam.  The one downside of the program?  Penn does not offer their Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program online.

3. Columbia University

With graduates employed in top hospitals across the country, it’s readily apparent that Columbia University prepares graduates from their Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program well for the real world.  A pass rate of 100 percent on the national nurse practitioner certification exam is further evidence of this preparation.  Clinical placements are provided for students preventing them from the stress of finding their own clinical sites.

4. The Ohio State University

Another well-rounded program, the Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program at The Ohio State University provides an exceptional student experience.  While the overall ACNP program is not offered online, some courses may be taken at a distance giving students flexibility within the on-campus program.  Ohio State’s nursing faculty arrange clinical placements for students making sure each student has a quality hands-on learning experience.  Graduates of Ohio State’s Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program demonstrate it’s quality with a 100 percent pass rate on the national certification exam.

5. University of Michigan Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan’s Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program takes the right approach to education.  This on-campus program first focuses on giving students a strong foundation for their NP practice with courses like pathophysiology and pharmacology.  Then, students are given the opportunity to specialize on an area of interest tailoring the program to individual needs.  As part of this approach, the University of Michigan assigns clinical placements to students making transition to the hands-on portion of the program seamless.  Graduates of the University of Michigan’s Acute Care NP program enjoy a 100 percent pass rate on the national certification exam.

6. Vanderbilt University

Along with offering one of the best Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner programs in the country, Vanderbilt University gives students significant flexibility in their education.  The ACNP program is presented in a modified distance format with students coming to campus for a few weekend blocks throughout the program.  This allows students to complete the program without relocating or giving up employment.  Students residing in Nashville, where the program is located, enjoy the luxury of being assigned clinical sites.  Students enrolled in the distance program are required to secure their own clinical preceptors.  Vanderbilt’s flexible format works well for students as evidenced by a 98.5 percent pass rate on the national certification exam.

7. Georgetown University

Georgetown’s Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program is uniques in that it is a combined Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist program.  This unique combiation prepares students to better integrate evidence-based practice in their clinical decision-making.  Georgetown’s innovative approach to the ACNP education prepares students well for the real-world.  Graduates of the program boast a 100 percent pass rate on the national certification exam and most find jobs quickly after graduation.  While overall an excellent option for your education, Georgetown’s Acute Care NP program does have a downside- students are required to secure their own clinical  preceptorships.  The school does offer guidance in the process.

8. University of Cincinnati

Like our other top picks, the University of Cincinnati makes its mark with a 100 percent pass rate among Acute Care Nurse Practitioner graduates on the national certification exam.  Not only do graduates fare well when it comes to test scores, most NP students find jobs in their last semester of the program making a seamless transition to the real world.  Some courses in the University of Cincinnati’s Acute Care NP program are offered online, but overall the program is campus-based.  Clinical placements are a combined effort in this program.  Students must find their own preceptors for some clinical sessions, however placement is assigned for the required SICU rotation.

9. Loyola University Chicago

What better place than Chicago to complete your nurse practitioner education?  Not only does Loyola University offer the allure of a fun city, the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program gives students a solid education for their future in practice.  Graduates of Loyola’s Acute Care NP program enjoy a 100 percent pass rate on the national certification exam.  While many classes are available online, the program is campus-based.

10. University of Alabama Birmingham 

The University of Alabama Birmingham is a powerhouse in the NP education world.  The university offers a multitude of nurse practitioner specialties.  Each specialty, including the Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner program, consistently offers students a top notch education.  100 percent of graduates from the University of Alabama’s Acute Care NP program pass the nurse practitioner program.  As an added bonus, the program is even offered to students studying at a distance.  A few on-campus meetings are required throughout the program.  The only downside of this top pick is that NP students are required to find their own clinical preceptorships.  Faculty help in this process by giving students a list of suggested clinical sites.

Where will you go for your Acute Care Nurse Practitioner degree?


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1 thought on “Top 10 Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs”

  1. The list has some great schools on it. I have to say though, many of them are on the higher end of the tuition scale. I personally had to make the difficult choice between Vanderbilt’s MSN program and Rush University’s DNP program. I ultimately went for the DNP to cover myself if the change ever happens. I also went Rush because it was much more in line with my budget, not the primary motivator, but a big one!

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