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FNP vs. AGACNP: Comparing Nursing Specializations

Written by: University of Tulsa   •  Jan 22, 2024
An adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner with a patient in a medical facility.

FNP vs. AGACNP: Comparing Nursing Specializations

Advanced practice nurses play a critical role in providing patient care, supporting medical teams, and ensuring the health care system functions at peak efficiency. For evidence of this, look no further than the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which projects astonishing job growth for advanced practice nurses. According to BLS data, opportunities in this field are expected to grow at a rate of 38% between 2022 and 2032 — a rate that far exceeds the average for all professions.

Nurses who wish to take advantage of these opportunities may do so by pursuing additional training and honing the skills and competencies needed to gain advanced practice certifications. There are several specializations to choose from, with the family nurse practitioner (FNP) and adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AGACNP) being popular choices. For those comparing the two roles, FNP vs. AGACNP, it might be helpful to learn about the distinctions between the two.

What Does an FNP Do?

Family nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have pursued additional training and education to cultivate a robust set of skills related to patient care and clinical leadership. FNPs typically treat patients of all ages, from infancy through adulthood, providing long-term, primary care. Many FNPs essentially perform the same role as a general physician, providing their patients with routine wellness checks and treatments for common illnesses.

The FNP role is well-suited to nurses who wish to see the same patients on a regular or recurring basis, forming relationships with them and gaining a deeper understanding of their family medical histories. FNPs work in several types of clinical care settings, including private and group practices, community clinics, and hospitals.

FNP Job Description

FNPs have comprehensive patient care responsibilities. The duties of an FNP may vary from one position to the next, but their typical job duties include the following:

  • Examining patients during routine wellness checks
  • Collecting and maintaining detailed patient records
  • Ordering, performing, and interpreting diagnostic tests
  • Analyzing health metrics, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Developing and implementing treatment plans
  • Prescribing medications (prescriptive authority varies by state)
  • Providing patients and their families with education about disease prevention and wellness promotion
  • Collaborating and communicating with other providers and specialists

What Does an AGACNP Do?

To continue the FNP vs. AGACNP comparison, consider the role of the adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner.

Like FNPs, AGANCPs are nurses who gain advanced training, ultimately becoming certified to provide a higher level of patient care. More specifically, nurses in this role provide short-term care to patients who sustain acute illnesses or injuries. Often, this means working in a hospital setting, though AGACNPs also work in clinics and rehabilitation facilities.

AGACNPs are usually called upon to treat patients who are in critical condition. This can include patients with traumatic injuries or illnesses, as well as patients who need postoperative care. Notably, AGACNPs only treat adult patients, whereas FNPs see both adult and younger patients.

AGACNP Job Description

The adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner job description may look a little different from one position to the next. However, their standard duties and responsibilities include:

  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests
  • Making quick treatment decisions based on testing and physical examinations
  • Regularly monitoring patients’ vital signs
  • Administering medications, including sedatives and local anesthesia
  • Performing first aid, wound care, intubation, and extubation procedures
  • Ensuring the safety and well-being of patients
  • Communicating with patients’ family members

FNP vs. AGACNP: Salary

As nurses compare these two advanced practice specializations, it is only normal to have some questions about salary expectations.

According to November 2023 data from Payscale, FNPs have a median annual salary of approximately $102,840. By contrast, acute care nurse practitioners (ACNPs) have a median annual salary of approximately $110,910, also per Payscale data.

Several factors can affect individual salaries for either position. These factors include the nurse’s level of education, years of experience, and geographic location. The size and nature of the health care facility may also be a determinative factor.

Explore Advanced Practice Nurse Specializations

Advanced practice nurses have ample opportunities to care for patients and support high-quality health outcomes. Two of the most popular advanced practice nursing roles, FNP and AGACNP, are available to nurses who receive additional clinical training and leadership development. 

One of the best ways to prepare for these specialized roles is by enrolling in a certificate program, like The University of Tulsa’s post-master’s AG-ACNP certificate program. This program is designed to provide nurses with the specific skills and competencies needed to thrive in this unique, fast-paced role. Discover how the right education can prepare you for long-term success in advanced practice nursing.

Recommended Readings

How to Become an APRN

3 Reasons to Expand Your Nursing Scope of Practice

How to Become a Research Nurse


American Association of Nurse Practitioners, “Are You Considering a Career as an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner?”

American Association of Nurse Practitioners, “Are You Considering a Career as a Family Nurse Practitioner?”

American Association of Nurse Practitioners, NP Fact Sheet

Indeed, “Acute Care vs. Family Nurse Practitioners: How They Compare”

Payscale, Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ANCP) Salary

Payscale, Average Family Nurse Practitioner (NP) Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners

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