Best Texas Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs

September 21, 2021 , Modified on May 25, 2022 · 6 Min Read

As an acute care nurse practitioner, you hold an important role in healthcare. Find the best acute care nurse practitioner programs in Texas.

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Best Texas Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs
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Acute care nurse practitioners (ACNPs) examine, diagnose, and treat patients with severe short-term medical needs or those with chronic issues that have become life-threatening. ACNPs work in fast-paced environments that require quick thinking, versatility, and a desire to continue learning.

This guide includes a list of the top ACNP programs in Texas. Review the process of finding, applying, and paying for the right graduate program in the state.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best acute care nurse practitioner programs, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including: academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

Keep reading to learn more about acute care nurse practitioner programs, or go straight to our list of the best ACNP programs in Texas.

What Can You Do as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner?

An ANCP is anurse practitioner (NP) who specializes in the care of patients with acute illnesses or intensifying chronic conditions. ACNPs often work in emergency rooms, operating rooms, critical care units, trauma units, intensive care units, and transplant units.

Responsibilities include coordinating patient care, assessing health history, ordering diagnostic tests, providing treatment, and prescribing medication. Their ability to carry out these tasks autonomously depends on the state in which they practice.

Full practice states allow NPs to diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication without physician oversight. Reduced access requires physician oversight to prescribe medication only. Restricted access requires physician oversight to diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication.

What To Look For in a Texas Acute Care NP Program

When deciding to pursue a master's or doctoral degree in acute care, review various aspects of the programs to make sure they are the right fit. While programs vary by institution, the key factors remain consistent. Identifying and examining the following qualities can help determine if the program is appropriate for each individual applicant.

Admission requirements for ACNP programs are similar for each institution. However, some requirements, such as the ability to attend full-time vs. part-time or on-campus requirements, may vary. Researching the specific requirements of each institution can help applicants make sure they meet the school's conditions for acceptance.

Even though most programs offer similar core classes, applicants should determine if the school offers their chosen specialty, such as adult-gerontology or pediatric acute care.

ACNP programs typically require students to have a certain amount of previous clinical experience prior to enrollment. Students are also obligated to complete clinical hours as part of the program's prerequisites for graduation.

The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) are the two bodies responsible for providing nursing programs with accreditation. Attending an accredited program ensures students receive the best education. Programs without accreditation may impact a graduate's ability to continue their education or find the best employment opportunities.

Standard ACNP master's programs require roughly 48 credit hours, which typically take two years to complete. However, the length of a program can vary based on the students' availability (part-time vs. full-time) and educational background (associate vs. bachelor's degree). Pay close attention to a program's structure to determine how long it will take to complete.

Although prospective ACNPs have already passed the NCLEX, a program's NCLEX passing rate can provide prospective students with insight into how well the school prepares its graduates for the exam. The success of an undergraduate program typically carries over into the institution's graduate programs.

Graduation rates provide applicants with insight into how committed a school is to graduating its students. Although these rates are determined by calculating the number of undergraduate students who finished their program within a certain time period, the success often translates into graduate programs.

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Applying to an Acute Care NP Program in Texas

Before applying to an ACNP program, students should review the admission requirements to make sure they meet all prerequisites. Then, applicants must compile admission materials.

Bachelor of science in nursing; valid RN license; official transcripts; letters of recommendation; personal statement; background check

Minimum 3.0 GPA

Live or recorded interview

Why Is Acute Care NP Program Accreditation Important?

Choosing an accredited ACNP program provides benefits for students and their future employers. Accreditation verifies that the program meets the highest of standards, ensuring students are properly educated on the best nursing practices.

  • The accrediting bodies (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) verify that a school's nursing program meets the state and national standards.
  • If a student wants to transfer from one school to another or continue their education, most nursing programs do not accept transfer credits from institutions that are not accredited.
  • Accredited degrees open nurses up to more lucrative employment positions and a higher earning potential.

Paying for an Acute Care NP Program in Texas

When applying to an ACNP program, the cost can be one of the determining factors in a prospective student's choice. Tuition varies based on the exclusivity of the school, the length of the program, the location of the institution, and the enrollment status of the student (full-time vs. part-time).

Fortunately, there are a variety of resources for those who need help paying for their nursing degree. Students can access financial aid,scholarship opportunities, grants, and loans to help meet costs.

Scholarships are awarded based on merit, talent, or academic performance. Grants are provided based on financial need. Loans consist of borrowed money students will eventually need to pay back. Some programs and states also offer loan forgiveness and cancellation programs that can help eliminate some or all of a student's debt.

Learn More About the Top Acute Care NP Programs in Texas

  1. University of Texas Health School of Nursing

    Houston, TX

    At the UTHealth School of Nursing, graduates are trained to care for adult patients with highly complex health needs. The focus is strongly on interdisciplinary practice, collaborating with the various other professionals who deal with patients requiring acute care. During the program, students will be introduced to the various illnesses common in people requiring acute care. At the end of the program, students will be able to take the ANCC or AACN Certification, allowing them to become registered acute care NPs.

    • Campus: Houston, Texas
    • Type: Public-private partnership
    • Accreditation: SACSCC, CCNE
    • Tuition: Residents pay $232 per credit hour. Non-residents pay $875.
    • Minimum time commitment: Full time and part time courses both require 41 hours. Post-Master’s certification takes 29 hours
    • Online availability: No
    • Degree requirements: GRE or MAT, transcript, 3 letters of reference, TOEFL scores if applicable, international credentials evaluation if applicable, resume, proof of at least one year clinical experience as critical care RN and interview. For the post-master’s program, students must submit their MSN transcript, three letters of reference, a current RN license and BCLS and ACLS documentation.
    • Programs: Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Post Master’s Degree in Adult/Gerontology Acute Care
    • School website: Tuition and Financial Aid

  2. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

    Lubbock, TX

    Texas Tech currently offers the MSN in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP program. Graduates will be able to provide care that is comprehensive and sensitive to different cultures and focuses on both chronic and episodic illnesses. As an AGACNP, you will be responsible for the promotion, management and restoration of health in adults with chronic, acute or critical illnesses. Graduates will be able to sit the Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam at the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

    • Campus: Lubbock, Texas
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: AACN, BON
    • Tuition: In-state students pay an estimated $2,925 for 9 semester credit hours. Out-of-state students pay an estimated $8,046 for the same period.
    • Minimum time commitment: 48 credit hours
    • Online availability: Fully, but some travel to campus will be required.
    • Degree requirements: RN, personal statement, 3 reference letters, transcripts for BSN (or for MSN if opting for the post-master’s certificate), TOEFL scores if applicable, one year of relevant RN work experience in the past 5 years, accredited BSN degree, statistics course, GPA of 3.0 minimum and BLS certification.
    • Programs: MSN Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Post-Masters Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate
    • School website: Tuition and Financial Aid

  3. University of Texas Arlington

    Arlington, TX

    At the University of Texas Arlington, there are two Acute Care NP programs: the general program and the pediatric program. Both programs also have post master’s options. Students will learn how to provide acute care to those with chronic illnesses. The emphasis is placed on minimizing acute complications, stabilizing conditions and restoring health where possible. Once certified, NPs can work in therapy settings, acute care hospitals and so on. They become recognized by the Texas Board of Nursing and they will be able to take the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner exam, which is a national certification provided by the ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center).

    • Campus: Arlington, TX
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation: CCNE
    • Tuition: Varies and financial aid is available
    • Minimum time commitment: 48 to 51 hours for NP, 36 hours for Post Master’s
    • Online availability: No
    • Degree requirements: GPA of 3.0 minimum, TOEFL if required, 2 years RN experience, essay, PALS for the pediatric program, accredited BSN, statistics course, CPR
    • Programs: Acute Care NP, Acute Care Pediatric NP, Post Master’s Certification
    • School website: Tuition and Financial Aid

  4. Texas Woman's University

    Dallas and Houston, TX

    The AGACNP (Adult/Gerontology Acute Care NP) program is designed to create leaders in the role of health care and health promotion in acute care. As the role of the AGACNP is changing dramatically, the course now includes working in specialty clinics, working with inpatients, dealing with virtual locations and more.

    • Campus: Dallas and Houston, Texas
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: CCNE
    • Tuition: Varies
    • Minimum time commitment: 23 credit hours
    • Online availability: No
    • Degree requirements: Transcripts, GRE, RN license, statistics course, BSN and GPA of 3.0 minimum
    • Programs: Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
    • School website: Tuition and Financial Aid

  5. UT Health Science Center at San Antonio

    San Antonio, TX

    There are three different options for the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP programs at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, being the MSN, the Alternative Entry MSN and the Post-Master’s option. The goal of these programs is to prepare nurses to provide high quality and fully comprehensive care to adult populations. Adults are classed as anyone over the age of adolescence. Graduates will be able to work across the full spectrum of care settings, focusing particularly on those with acute care. As an AGACNP, you are able to provide diagnosis of illness and treat them, as well conduct examinations, order tests and prescribe meds, if supervised by a physician.

    • Campus: San Antonio, Texas
    • Type: Public-private partnership
    • Accreditation: CCNE
    • Tuition: Varies
    • Minimum time commitment: 50 semester hours and 600 clinical hours for the MSN, 71 semester hours and 840 clinical hours for the Alternative Entry MSN; 26 semester hours and 600 clinical hours for the Post-Grad option.
    • Online availability: No
    • Degree requirements: TOEFL score if required, transcripts, BSN, statistics course, RN license, CPR certification, immunizations, health insurance, criminal background check, personal statement, GPA, 3 references, 2 years of practice experience. For the post-grad option, an MSN degree is required.
    • Programs: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (MSN or Alternative Entry), Post-Grad Cert AG-ACNP
    • School website: Tuition and Financial Aid

Common Questions About Acute Care NP Programs

How much do acute care nurse practitioners make in Texas?

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics does not track ACNP compensation, they do note that the national average salary for NPs is $120,680. In Texas, NPs can expect an average salary of $117,890.

According to PayScale data from May 2022, ACNPs earn an average annual salary of $105,450. Those working in Texas can expect their salary to be above or below the national average depending on their location in the state: Abilene ($98,370), Arlington ($104,451), Austin ($110,015), Dallas ($102,990), El Paso ($100,000), Fort Worth ($103,190), and Houston ($112,270).

Are nurse practitioners in high demand in Texas?

According to the Texas Health and Human Services Administration, between 2018 and 2032, the state's supply of NPs could exceed its demand. However, due to the number of nurses leaving the field because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state's demand could increase.

How long does it take to earn an acute care NP degree in Texas?

The length of time it takes to become an ACNP depends upon the individual's educational path. Prospective nurses who follow the traditional path, which includes starting out by earning their bachelor of science in nursing followed by their master of science in nursing can become an ACNP in 6-8 years, with those pursuing their doctor of nursing practice finishing in 8-10 years.

What is the role of an acute care nurse practitioner in Texas?

ACNPs provide advanced care to patients who are suffering from acute or exacerbated chronic conditions. However, since Texas is currently a restricted proactive state, the law requires NPs to have physician oversight with regard to diagnosing, treating, and prescribing medications. NPs in the state are unable to practice independently.

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