Program accreditation
Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

The VCU School of Nursing adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner concentration prepares graduates for advanced practice registered nurse roles by developing the knowledge and skills needed to manage acutely ill adults, ranging from adolescents to the elderly, through all phases of their hospitalization. Students learn to manage patients through comprehensive physical and psychosocial assessments, use of decision-making/diagnostic reasoning processes, performance of advanced practice skills and procedures, and implementation of evidence-based treatment strategies. Graduates of the AGACNP concentration are prepared to diagnose and manage complex health problems of adults across the life span, including acute/critical illness and injuries, as well as exacerbations of chronic conditions.

The AGACNP generally works in an acute care setting, often within a multidisciplinary team focused on the provision of evidence-based care to adults who are acutely ill. The sphere of influence of the nurse practitioner is that of the patient.

Graduates of the AGACNP concentration are eligible to apply for certification as an AGACNP by the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.

Program goals

Graduates will achieve advanced nursing practice competencies by demonstrating:

  1. Systems and organizational leadership
  2. Implementation of advanced nursing practice interventions
  3. Effective use of research and technology
  4. Systematic evaluation of interventions and outcomes

Student learning outcomes

Graduates will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate core competencies in their advanced practice specialties
  2. Integrate nursing and related sciences into the delivery of advanced nursing care to diverse populations and systems of health care delivery
  3. Apply ethical analysis and clinical reasoning to assess, intervene and evaluate advanced nursing care delivery
  4. Understand the implications of social, cultural, economic, policy and organizational systems that impact practice and outcomes
  5. Synthesize evidence for practice to determine appropriate application of interventions across diverse populations and settings
  6. Use quality processes and improvement science to evaluate care and ensure patient safety for individuals, populations and systems
  7. Integrate organizational science and technology to make changes in the care environment to improve health outcomes and practice efficiency

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Other information

VCU School of Nursing Student Policy and Information handbooks are located on the school’s website.

Visit the School of Nursing website for program-specific application instructions.

Admission requirements

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
CertificateSpringSep 15None

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, applicants must:

  1. Be eligible for readmission or in good standing at the last college attended

  2. Be a graduate of an accredited (ACEN, CCNE or CNEA) master’s or doctoral nursing degree program [Applicants to the post-master’s certificate nurse practitioner concentrations must hold a master’s or doctoral degree as an advanced practiced registered nurse (NP or CNS) from an accredited (ACEN, CCNE or CNEA) program.]
  3. Have a current unrestricted R.N. license or authorization to practice as an R.N. in the U.S.
  4. Submit three references from their graduate program and from employers/supervisors
  5. If not a native speaker, provide proof of English language proficiency by submitting one of the following test scores (taken within 24 months of the time of application):
    1. TOEFL score of 100 iBT with minimum subsection scores as noted
      1. Reading – 22
      2. Listening – 22
      3. Speaking – 26
      4. Writing – 24
    2. IELTS score of 7.5 overall band

Degree requirements

Twenty-five graduate credit hours are required for the post-master’s certificate in nursing with a concentration in adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner.

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, a candidate for the degree of Certificate in Nursing must be recommended by the faculty and must:

  1. Meet academic requirements of the Graduate School
  2. Complete all requirements for the prescribed curriculum within six calendar years of the first registration for work to be credited toward the degree
  3. Earn a minimum grade of B or pass grade in all nursing courses
  4. Earn a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in all work presented for graduation
  5. Conform to School of Nursing policies in respect to pass/fail grading for course work or thesis study

The degree will be granted only after all requirements have been fulfilled and all fees to the university have been paid. Degrees are not granted in absentia unless written request is made to the dean and permission is granted.

Curriculum requirements

Students in nurse practitioner certification concentrations are required to have completed advanced health assessment, pharmacotherapeutics and pathophysiology courses.

GRTY   610Gero-pharmacology1
NURS   611Primary Care Advanced Practice Clinical Procedures1
NURS   612Acute Care Advanced Practice Clinical Procedures1
NURS   618Diagnosis and Management in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care I3
NURS   619Diagnosis and Management in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care II3
NURS   662Diagnosis and Management in Adult-Gerontology Critical Care4
NURS   678Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Practicum I3
NURS   669Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Practicum II4
NURS   679Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Practicum III5
Total Hours25

Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 25

Graduate program director
Pamela J. Biernacki, D.N.P., FNP-C
Assistant professor, Department of Family and Community Health Nursing
Email: pjbiernacki@vcu.edu
Phone: (804) 628-7567

Additional contact
Susan L. Lipp, M.S.N., R.N.
Assistant dean for enrollment and student services
Email: vcu_nurse@vcu.edu

Program website: nursing.vcu.edu/programs/post-masters-certificate