Acute Care Nurse Salary

Acute Care Nurse Salary

Figures coming from 2011 National Salary Report that was published by Advance for NPs and Pas, the pay of nursing practitioners varied based on work setting and patient population.

  • Emergency – $103,722
  • Gerontology – $94,485
  • Surgery – $91,203
  • Hospital – $96,124
  • Internal Medicine – $87,950
  • Women’s health – $82,183
  • Pediatrics – $82,101
  • Neonatal Unit – $99,810

According to a survey conducted on 3,182 by AANP (American Academy of Nursing Practitioners) nursing practitioners, the average salary for a full-time nurse practitioner was $91,310. On the other hand, the average pay for a full-time acute care nurse was $105,200. The same study also reported that acute care nursing practitioners working in urgent or emergency care settings earned a lot more, with their average standing at $115,070.

Pay scale in different parts of the U.S.

As an acute care nursing practitioner, the best place that you can get maximum pay for your services is to the West. However, to get the very top dollar for your skills, states that are far West, like California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Nevada are the best paying states.

In the far West, the average salary is $107,518. Following closely is southwest, and states such as Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico feature prominently. The average salary here is $104,040.

In the North East, there are states such as Connecticut and Massachusetts, where an ACNP professional is paid $101,872 on average.

Acute care nursing practitioner job description

Acute care nursing practitioners can treat brief yet severe occurrences of diseases, injuries or traumas like respiratory distress and heart attacks. Therefore, these professionals are tasked with providing emergency medical interventions that are normally performed in hospitals, temporary stay settings and ambulatory facilities. As opposed to chronic care, (this usually involves treatment of an illness for a longer period of time), acute care, known also as secondary care, involves diagnosis as well as treatment of urgent medical conditions through active as well as immediate process.

How to become an acute nursing care practitioner

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Acute neck painThe state board of nursing recognizes acute care nursing professionals as certified nurse practitioners having specialty qualification in acute care. To become an acute care NP, an individual will begin by getting registered nursing license and get experience working as acute care registered nurse for a couple of years before starting a higher degree program.

After that, acute nurses then pursue a higher degree, normally an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) with acute care major or concentration. In most cases, nurses opt to purse MSN generally, and then study post-grad certificate in the field of acute care. Others even purse doctorate degree, earning the highly coveted DNP degree. Programs are normally available according to patient population foci. This includes adult gerontology, pediatrics and neonatology.

In graduate level programs, programs can be combined so that they include clinical exposure and curricula which incorporate the tenets of critical care and emergency care nursing with that of acute care nursing. The aim of these amalgamated programs is to prepare graduates that wish to be registered as clinical nurse experts, as well as nationally certified as acute CCNS Care Clinical Nurse Specialists) through the AACCN (American Association of Critical Care Nurses). Learn more about acute care nurse practitioner schools here.

Generally, the curriculum that is included in graduate programs of acute care nursing incorporates clinical decision-making and diagnostic reasoning. It includes the following:

  • Nursing theory
  • Nursing research
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Management of acute diseases in adults
  • Leadership for higher practice nursing
  • Physical health assessment


Applicants are only eligible for certification after completing graduate or even post-graduate education on acute care nursing. It is very important to be nationally certified, the reason being that most states require it before you can be give license to operate.

ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center), a branch of American Nurse Association, is the body charged with providing acute care nurse practitioner certification. The following are the requirements one needs to qualify for certification.

  • Possess an active registered nurse license in United States territory
  • Be a holder of Master’s, doctorate or postgraduate degree from acute care nursing practitioner program. The program must be either be CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing education)-accredited or NLNAC-accredited (National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission)
  • Provide evidence of a minimum of 500-faculty supervised hours in acute care nursing program. The courses must include advanced pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology, and advanced physical or health assessment. Also, you need to show that you took classes in disease prevention and health promotion, disease management and differential diagnosis.

Upon applying for certification, candidates have a maximum of 90 days to sit for the exam. This is usually through native Prometric Testing Center. After being certified, members will be recertified after every 5 years.

Acute care NPs salaries in other countries (Australia, Canada and the UK)

Acute care nurse practitioners can also receive attractive annual salaries in other developed countries other than the US. For example, in Canada, the average yearly pay for acute care nurse practitioners is C$89,000. In Australia, the average pay for acute care nurse practitioner is AU$ 97,000 per annum.

Just like in other health-related disciplines, UK pays her acute care nurse practitioners a slightly lower pay compared to other first world countries. The average income for acute care NPs is roughly £40,000. Converted to the US dollars, it comes to about $64,000. Therefore, outside of US, the best other countries to work in are Australia and Canada.

Verdict on acute care nurse practitioner salary

Acute care nurse practitioners must undergo several years of training for them to be licensed. However, these educational endeavors receive quite attractive compensation. They may not necessarily be considered doctors. However, many of them have doctorate degrees in nursing. Also, it is worth noting that they capable of doing what a qualified physician might do normally. Choosing to become acute care nurse practitioner is a fantastic career choice. Even if they aren’t the highest paid professionals in the nursing industry, they still get to earn six-figure salaries. The best thing is that there is always room for improvement. The higher your education and experience, the better the perks.