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USM announces new Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner degree

USM School of Nursing - nurse student treating patient

The University of Southern Maine’s School of Nursing is now offering a new master’s degree in acute care. The Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner degree will prepare students to provide comprehensive patient-centered care to adults and older adults with acute, complex and critical illnesses.

USM's program offers the only face-to-face acute care nurse practitioner degree in Maine.

Maine’s Department of Labor recently issued a report stating that due to the aging population in the state, by far the greatest increase in Maine jobs between 2016 and 2026 will occur in the healthcare industry. The study predicts Maine will need to add more than 3,800 jobs among healthcare practitioners and technical occupations, as well as about 2,000 jobs in healthcare support occupations.

“USM’s new program addresses Maine’s need for providers who can assess and manage acutely ill patients in inpatient hospital settings, intensive care units and emergency departments -- it fills a critical need, particularly given our state’s aging population, and especially in smaller rural area hospitals,” said the program’s lead faculty and Assistant Professor of Nursing Valerie Fuller, PhD, DNP, AGACNP-BC.

“Maine is an aging state -- statistically, the oldest in the nation,” said Mary-Anne Ponti, chief nursing officer at Central Maine Healthcare in Lewiston. “So expertise in gerontology acute care is a crucial need here, and this new program is a truly welcome step as hospitals evolve their care for an aging population.”

The new program’s curriculum focuses on building core competencies in advanced health assessment, clinical decision making and diagnosis, advanced pharmacology, and disease management.

Seminars and clinical experiences will emphasize the physiological and psychosocial impact of acute illness on the patient and family members.

The program also will offer a BSN to MSN option (45 credits). The post-MSN option for practicing primary care nurse practitioners who wish to attain acute care certification can be completed in as little as three semesters (18 credits).

Applications for Spring 2019 admission are being accepted now through October 1, 2018 – and information may be found on the USM Nursing website.

Degree holders from the program will be eligible for the American Nurses' Credentialing Center's (ANCC) certification exam as an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner or the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) certification exam as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner – Adult Gerontology.

“Students will learn important leadership skills including initiating collaborative relationships with others for the purposes of improving nursing and health care and influencing health policy. They will also gain skills in clinical decision-making and differential diagnosis, case management and consultation, client/patient teaching, assessments and interventions,” said Fuller.

The new program complements the other areas of study in USM’s graduate nursing program, with masters degrees including Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Primary Care, Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, Nurse Educator, and Maine’s only doctoral nursing degree – the Doctor of Nursing Practice.

As a leading educator of health care providers, the University of Southern Maine School of Nursing offers degrees and certificates at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The School’s programs provide the academic and social foundation for nursing graduates to meet the needs of the citizens of Maine and the global community.


by Danielle Vayenas | Office of Public Affairs