Graduate Certificate Programs in Acute Care Nursing

Dec 14, 2019

This article will present an overview of graduate certificate programs in acute care nursing as well as the general admission requirements that prospective students will need to satisfy.

Acute care nursing is a specialty field that usually covers patients who need post-surgical care or who have terminal chronic illnesses and may only need care for a short period of time. For this reason, graduate certificate programs in acute care nursing tend to focus on gerontology, which is the study of older adults. These programs are usually only open to registered nurses.

Acute Care Nursing Graduate Certificate Programs

These postgraduate programs can have as many as 49 credit hours, which can include practical exercises and clinical residencies. A few of the common course topics students can expect are detailed below.

Acute Care Diagnosis

The courses that focus on diagnoses in acute care nursing are designed to develop the students' diagnostic skills. Students may learn how to make evidence-based decisions using the relevant principles as well as through consulting scientific literature. In some courses, students will be given 'hands-on' activities in a clinical or laboratory environment.


In some programs, courses on pharmacology are meant to introduce students to the basics of the subject while others cover more in-depth material. Students may learn about drug interactions and potential adverse reactions in the context of patient safety. Other topics that may be covered include pharmacotherapeutics, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacoeconomics.

Gerontology in Acute Care

Courses like these usually focus on taking care of elderly patients who either have a chronic illness or are critically ill. Students may learn about the different illnesses that can affect the reproductive, gastrointestinal, and endocrine systems as well as the best ways to manage them. Some of these courses may include an intensive laboratory program.

Health Assessment

These are the kinds of courses that are meant to teach students how to carry out an advanced physical examination on a patient. In some cases, these courses may be tailored to address the assessment of an elderly patient. After taking these courses, students should be able to recommend appropriate diagnostic tests based on what they have observed.

Health Policy

Courses of this nature are designed to explore the national policies that govern healthcare systems in the United States. Students may learn about the organizations that are usually involved in creating and maintaining these policies as well as how healthcare is financed. These courses may also include topics like the policymaking process, payment systems and the use of data in determining policies.

General Admission Requirements for Acute Care Nursing Graduate Certificate Programs

For admission into graduate certificate programs in acute care nursing, applicants will need to have a master's degree from an accredited college or university. Some programs may require a minimum GPA of 3.0 as well as prerequisite courses in areas such as epidemiology, primary care management, and differential diagnosis. To be considered for certain programs, the applicant may either need to have a valid nursing license or meet the requirements for acquiring one. Some of the items prospective students may need to submit include school transcripts, letters of recommendation, a current resume, a personal statement, a background check, and proof of current immunization status.

Graduate certificate programs in acute care nursing are generally designed for registered nurses with a minimum of a master's degree. These programs may have up to 49 credits and explore course topics such as health assessment, pharmacology, and gerontology in acute care.

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