Adult/Gerontology — Acute Care Specialty


Adult/Gerontology — Acute Care Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) are Registered Nurses educated at the Master's level with expertise in the care of the adult/gerontology population with high intensity nursing and medical needs, including acute, critical, and complex chronic health conditions. Preparation in the following roles is offered: Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) and Acute Care Adult/Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (ACCNS or Adult CNS). Graduate are eligible to sit for certification as Acute Care or Adult NPs or CNSs.

Dual preparation as both a nurse practitioner and a clinical nurse specialist is also available.

Populations of Interest

The population of interest for these programs is adults, from late adolescence through senescence, who have acute, critical and complex chronic health needs. The age and patient status, not the location of the patient, is key; students may care for patients in a variety of settings, including the patient's home, outpatient clinics, medical/surgical wards, critical care units, or emergency/urgent care units.

Nurse Practitioner Role and Preparation

Acute Care Nurse Practitioners provide advanced nursing care across the continuum of healthcare services to meet the specialized physiological and psychological needs of adult/gerontology patients with acute, critical, and complex chronic health conditions. They perform comprehensive health assessments, order and interpret the full spectrum of diagnostic tests and procedures, use differential diagnosis to reach a medical diagnosis, construct and order a plan of care, and evaluate the outcomes of interventions for patients.

Clinical Nurse Specialist Role and Preparation

Adult/Gerontology-Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialists intervene in the individual patient/family sphere, a nurses-nursing practice sphere, and the organizations-systems sphere to improve patient outcomes. Their activities span 8 dimensions of care: clinical judgment, clinical inquiry, facilitation of learning, collaboration, systems thinking, advocacy/moral agency, caring practices, and response to diversity. Clinical Nurse Specialists perform comprehensive health assessments, interpret diagnostic tests and procedures within their areas of expertise, provide expert consultation to other health care providers, support organizational goals, evaluate application of research to clinical practice within an organizational setting, provide formal and informal multidisciplinary education, and provide leadership, mentoring and guidance to staff nurses.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the UCLA School of Nursing Adult/Gerontology Acute Care program assume an advanced practice role in the care of adult/gerontology patients with acute illnesses or with exacerbations of chronic illness and with high-intensity nursing and medical needs. While all students are expected to gain proficiency with care of adult/gerontology patients in acute care general medicine settings, students may also select an area of focus within the adult/gerontology population. Students specializing in oncology may select from a variety of oncology settings.

Education: Master of Science in Nursing

Credentials (Depending on Role and/or Specialty)

  • Eligible for the American Nurses' Credentialing Center's certification exam as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, or Adult Nurse Practitioner
  • Eligible for the American Association of Critical Care Nurses certification exam as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Eligible for the APRN certification exam from the Oncology Nursing Society, as an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner, or Advanced Oncology Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Eligible for the CCNS exam from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses
  • Eligible for prescriptive authority in all 50 states with restriction as specified by each state

Types of Care Provided by the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse

  • Continuous and comprehensive care in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings
  • Episodic care for acute and critically ill patients
  • Management of chronic conditions or terminal illness
  • Management of long term care or sub-acute/rehabilitation patients
  • Monitoring and case management of medical and cardiac diseases
  • Multidisciplinary and comprehensive care

Key Elements of the AC-NP

    • advanced clinical expertise
    • development of differential diagnoses
    • use of medical diagnostic reasoning to formulate the plan of care
    • order and prescription of pharmacologic and other therapeutic therapy
    • planning and management of patient care across the acute care continuum
    • utilization and performance of invasive and non-invasive interventions
    • evidence-based and research-based clinical practice
    • advocacy or patient agency
    • clinical leadership
    • promotion of health

    Key Elements of the ACCNS

    • advanced clinical expertise
    • comprehensive, holistic wellness and illness assessment
    • design, implementation, and evaluation of innovative individual, aggregate, and/or population-based programs of care
    • identification and measurement of nurse-sensitive patient outcomes
    • multidisciplinary collaboration
    • diagnosis of systems-level problems and development and evaluation of systems-level change strategies
    • evidence-based practice at the patient, nursing, and systems level
    • patient and nursing advocacy
    • clinical and professional leadership


    The two-year program (3 quarters per year) consists of theory and clinical courses designed to prepare APNs to work in a collaborative practice setting. Courses meet the criteria designated by state and national accreditation bodies and professional organizations including the California Board of Registered Nursing, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculty. Dual NP/CNS students also take an intensive clinical course during the Summer Session between the first and second years of study.

    Nursing Core Courses

    • N200 Biobehavioral Theoretical Foundations of Health Assessment
    • N204 Research Design and Critique
    • N224 Pharmacology for Advanced Practice Nurses
    • N229ABC Systems-Based Health Care 1, 2, and 3
    • N231 Human Physiology

    Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Courses

    • N214A and 214B Seminar for Advanced Concepts in Oncology I and II (required for Oncology)
    • N414A and 414B Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Oncology NP I and II (required for Oncology)
    • N216ABC Adult/Gero Concepts for Advanced Practice Nurses in Acute Care I, II, and II
    • N416A-E Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners I through V
    • N440 Advanced Assessment and Clinical Diagnosis Practicum
    • N444 Adult/Gero Advanced Assessment and Clinical Diagnosis Practicum II

    Clinical Lab and Practica Courses

    • Advanced Assessment (N440)
    • Advanced Practice Clinical Practica (N416A-E and N414AB)
    • Clinical Nurse Specialist Courses:
    • N220 Theories of Instruction and Learning in Nursing
    • N245 Theoretical Foundations of CNS Practice
    • N267 Health Care Policy
    • N269 Quality Improvement and Population-Based Quality of Practice
    • N445 Advanced practice Nursing Residency: CNS

    Theory Elective(s): 4 units required

    Clinical Elective(s): optional additional clinical hours by arrangement with individual faculty

    Sample Full Time Curriculum Course Sequences