Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the role of the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner?

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP) graduates are prepared to provide care to adults across the lifespan starting in adolescence at age 13. Most states require AGPCNPs to be certified by one of the national certification bodies—the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). All nursing practices, including prescriptive practices, are regulated by state laws. Therefore, licensing and scope of practice for AGPCNPs varies by state. Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitionersdeliver high quality, cost-effective care, emphasizing disease prevention and health promotion.; A crucial part of the role of an AGPCNP is teaching individuals and their families about maintaining their health and preventing disease. Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioners diagnose and treat episodic illnesses and chronic diseases commonly seen in adults. In addition, AGPCNPs order diagnostic testing, refer to appropriate specialists, collaborate with other health care providers and help individuals navigate the complex health care delivery system.


Do I have to be a nurse to enter the specialty?

No. You can enter this specialty if you have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a field other than nursing by completing a one year full-time baccalaureate equivalent program (PreSpecialty Year - Clinical Experiences), and then progressing to the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner specialty. If you have a BSN or MSN you enter directly into the specialty course work. All students, regardless of entry type, graduate with a MSN or post-master’s certificate.


How many students are accepted into this specialty each year?

We encourage you to apply to the specialty that meets your career interest rather than focus on the number of spaces available. We strongly recommended that you complete your application by the October 15th early action date to have a greater probability of being admitted. The number of students offered admission can vary each year based on many factors. Typically, we admit about 40 students into this specialty each year.


Do I need RN work experience?

No. You can enter the specialty without RN work experience. 


Does the school accept transfer credit?

Matriculated students can transfer up to six semester credits of equivalent graduate level coursework from another accredited university to be applied toward the MSN. You must complete  this petition  and return, along with the course syllabus, to  Sara Donahoe . Courses completed elsewhere must have been taken within the last five years. The decision is based on equivalent content (for required courses), credit allotment, and satisfactory completion of the courses.


I have an MSN degree, does the school have a post-master’s option?

Yes. There is a Post-Master’s Certificate in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care that is available to students who already possess an advanced nursing degree. We recommend you consider the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program and complete the post-master’s certificate as part of your DNP program of studies.


Can I work full-time and go to school full-time?

We strongly recommend that students do not attempt full-time school and full-time work. The few students who have successfully completed full-time school and work used flex time or accrued compensatory time to continue to work full-time. Some have used a Baylor plan (weekend shifts).


Can I take this specialty via the modified distance learning format?

This specialty is only offered via the modified distance learning format, so RNs do not need to relocate to Nashville.  If you do not have a prior nursing background, you must first complete your PreSpecialty Year on campus in Nashville before progressing to the specialty portion of your education which is taught via a modified distance learning format.


What is the modified distance learning format?

Modified distance learning specifically means that you will do a portion of your course work online via taped lectures and web conferencing to integrate the material.  A portion of your work requires on-campus learning in blocks of time (including weekends), followed by seminar and online discussions. Where possible, you can do your clinical practicum experience in your home area.  You will be in continuous contact with your professors throughout the program and in between sessions.


Can I take this specialty part-time?

Yes, however you are required to follow a pre-determined program of studies. Length of time to complete the entire program varies depending on your background prior to VUSN enrollment.  Our admissions staff are happy to walk you through your specific situation.  (part-time curriculum plans)


What housing options are there for students participating in the modified distance format?

Our Admissions Office has a listing of hotels near the VUSN campus and many students choose to share hotel rooms to lower costs. Some students stay with local classmates.


What is the specialty portion of the curriculum like?

All full-time students, those living in the middle Tennessee area and those living outside of the middle Tennessee area, attend “block classes” on the Vanderbilt School of Nursing campus.  There are four blocks of classes in the fall, including the new student orientation, three blocks in the spring semester and three blocks in the summer semester.  Block dates are determined early for the entire academic year allowing students plenty of time for adequate work/travel planning.  Faculty work closely with students throughout the entire program and are in continuous contact with students between block classes


How many times do I need to visit campus?

You will come to the Vanderbilt campus four times during the fall semester, three times in the spring semester and 2 times in the summer semester.


What are the clinical requirements for this specialty?

There are 560 clinical hours required.


How do you match me with clinical preceptors?

The key to a student’s success is a clinical placement with a qualified preceptor who is supportive and willing to mentor the student.  That’s why we view clinical placements as a required and integral part of your education.  Faculty work diligently to match you with appropriate preceptors so you can learn from clinical mentors and start applying your new skills and knowledge. We make every reasonable effort to accommodate a student’s placement request.


Is travel required as part of my clinical placements?

Travel is often a requirement of the specialty, as we strive to give the student a vast array of clinical experiences to enrich the student experience. (sample block schedule).


What will my credentials and certifications be?

Graduation from this MSN specialty specialty prepares you to take the national certification exams, offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Passage of the exams is required in most states to obtain a license as an advanced practice nurse.


What is the VUSN student pass rate on the certification exams?

Everyone will be well prepared for the certification exams as our students typically score well above national averages on these exams. More Info >


Will I earn my nursing license?

If you enter without a nursing degree, you will take the NCLEX to obtain your Tennessee RN license after your first year of study.


Will I be able to get a job upon graduation?

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioners are well-qualified to meet the growing health care demands of patients in a variety of settings such as medical offices, ambulatory care settings, community clinics and more. According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging, people age 65+ will make up 19 percent of our population by 2030. As an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, you will be in a great position to respond to the growing needs of our aging population.


Can I earn a DNP degree?

Yes! Our both the MSN and Post-master’s certificate programs are designed for you to seamlessly transition to our DNP program. After successful completion of one semester of the specialty year curriculum, you complete an abbreviated application to indicate your interest in progressing to the DNP program; no additional application fee is required. Either you can progress directly into the DNP program or you can take a gap year to work as an APRN before starting the DNP program. The advantage of earning the MSN degree before the DNP degree is that you will be able to work as an APRN during your DNP program. The DNP program is designed for APRNs who are working full or part time. See DNP program details.