FNP vs. AGNP: What Are the Degree & Career Differences?

Amid the ever-changing U.S. healthcare landscape, nurse practitioners have become the healthcare provider of choice for millions of Americans.

Skilled clinicians who “assess, diagnose and treat acute and chronic diseases as well as counsel, coordinate care and educate patients regarding their illnesses,” NPs bring a comprehensive perspective to healthcare, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).

Becoming an NP is a traditional career pathway for experienced nurses and, because of the advanced skillset and educational requirements, it is a high-paying profession. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for nurse practitioners in 2022 is $125,900.

There are now more than 355,000 nurse practitioners across the U.S. and nearly all of them have earned their master’s degree, an educational achievement that is required for licensure (some NPs also go on to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice, or DNP). An active nursing license is also required for certification as a nurse practitioner.

Nurse practitioners choose from among several areas of specialization and, for many, the decision often comes down to family nurse practitioner vs. adult-gerontology nurse practitioner — FNP vs. AGNP.

The Biggest Differences Between FNP and AGNP

An FNP is an advanced practice registered nurse who provides a wide range of family-focused healthcare services to patients of all ages, from infancy through old age. According to the AANP, duties include:

  • Maintaining patient records
  • Performing physical exams
  • Ordering or performing diagnostic tests
  • Prescribing medications
  • Developing treatment plans
  • Treating acute and chronic illnesses, conditions and injuries that fall under primary care

A family nurse practitioner works closely with patients throughout the course of their lives, helping them reach greater wellness and happiness through health. FNPs practice in a variety of healthcare settings, including community health centers, private practice, healthcare systems and universities.

The role of the adult-gerontology nurse practitioner (AGNP) is quite similar to that of the FNP with at least one major exception — the age of their patient population. While FNPs may treat patients from infancy through old age, AGNPs treat patients from adolescence (typically from age 13) through old age.

Because the title includes the term “gerontology” — a medical term that refers to the scientific study of old age and conditions associated with the aging process — the AGNP is sometimes thought of as someone who specializes in treating the elderly population. However, it is in fact a specialty that extends across a patient’s lifespan, starting with adolescence.

Here is a recap of the primary differences:

  • AGNPs specialize in comprehensive healthcare for adults across the lifespan from adolescence (13) to old age; they do not work with children or require experience in pediatrics. (Approximately 9% of NPs are AGNPs).
  • FNPs do work with children; being an FNP tends to offer greater flexibility to switch practice areas later in your career. (70% % of NPs are FNPs).

FNP vs. AGNP Comparison Table

The FNP often fulfills the role of a primary care provider, functioning as a patient’s key point of contact and first line of defense for all major health issues and questions. The FNP is skilled at diagnosing and treating illness in patients of all ages, promoting healthy lifestyles and guiding patients in disease prevention.

The AGNP will often serve as the go-to medical provider for patients over the long term, typically taking a wellness-based and holistic approach to medical care and functioning as the familiar point of contact for routine medical visits.

Definition A family nurse practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who provides family-focused care to patients of all ages, from early childhood to seniors. FNPs work almost exclusively in primary care. An adult-gerontology nurse practitioner is an APRN who specializes in the treatment of adults and geriatric populations.
Education FNPs will hold either a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). AGNPs will hold either a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP).
Typical Courses – Healthcare Policy

– Biostatistics for Evidence-Based Practice

– Advanced Health Assessment

– Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology

– Pharmacology for Advanced Nursing Practice

– Clinical Management

– Family Nurse Practitioner Practicums & Seminars

– Healthcare Policy

– Biostatistics for Evidence-Based Practice

– Advanced Health Assessment

– Pathophysiology for Advanced Nursing Practice

– Pharmacology for Advanced Nursing Practice

– Clinical Management

– AANP Practicums & Seminars

Accreditation FNP programs should be accredited through one of the following organizations:

• Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

• Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)

AGNP programs should be accredited through one of the following organizations:

• Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

• Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)

Clinical Hours Most MSN programs require at least 500 clinical hours, while DNP programs often require at least 1,000 clinical hours. Most MSN programs require at least 500 clinical hours, while DNP programs often require at least 1,000 clinical hours.
Licensing & Certification FNPs can receive certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). AGNPs can receive certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).
Professional Associations • American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)

• International Council of Nurse Practitioners (ICNP)

• California Association of Nurse Practitioners (CANP)

• American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)

• Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA)

• Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing

Overview Family nurse practitioners provide care to patients of all ages and backgrounds. Skilled in pediatric, adolescent and geriatric issues, FNPs offer guidance regarding disease prevention and wellness in addition to diagnosing, treating and managing disease. Typically working in a primary care setting, FNPs often see their patients over many years as they transition from childhood to adolescence and into adulthood. Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners typically focus on adult and elderly patients. In addition to nursing fundamentals, AGNPs have an intimate understanding of the aging process. Their education and practice focuses on serving those patients 13 years of age and older in dealing with the unique medical challenges that occur in the later chapters of one’s life.

Source: www.nursepractitionerschools.com

Career & Salary Outlook

The career outlook is quite bright for those considering a career as a nurse practitioner, and not just because salaries are on the rise — up 8.1%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for a median annual salary of $125,900.

A recent search for “nurse practitioner $150,000” on the employment website Indeed.com yielded 11,266 results for NP jobs paying $150k and above at locations across the United States. According to the BLS, average salaries for nurse practitioner by state range as high as $158,130 in California; $143,250 in New Jersey; $138,700 in Massachusetts; and $136,250 in Oregon.

The ongoing shortage of primary care physicians is one of the factors fueling the increased need for certified nurse practitioners. The demand for nurse practitioners is booming, causing the number of NPs to increase by 9%, from 325,000 NPs in May 2021 to more than 355,000 in May 2022, according to AANP.

Those who work as FNPs and AGNPs are commonly motivated by a desire to make a meaningful difference in the lives of their patients. Functioning in a role that is in many ways similar to a primary care provider represents an opportunity to form long-term bonds with the individuals under one’s care.

FNPs most often work autonomously or in collaboration with other healthcare professionals to deliver family-focused care, at workplace settings that include:

  • Private practice medical offices
  • Clinics
  • School nursing
  • Hospitals
  • Health departments
  • Rural clinics

In addition to a broad range of basic health services, AGNPs are also focused on working with end-of-life patients to help alleviate suffering and improve quality of life. Potential workplace settings for adult-gerontological primary care nurse practitioners working in primary care include:

  • Private practice offices
  • Outpatient care facilities
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Specialty clinics
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Prisons and jails
  • Home care
  • College campuses or schools

Compassion is considered a prerequisite for both specialties, and the work is appreciated. U.S. News & World Report names Nurse Practitioner as #2 on its list of 100 Best jobs (#1 in Health Care).

What to Look for in a Great FNP or AGNP School

When you are doing your homework around researching the ideal school to partner with for your nurse practitioner master’s degree, you will, of course, want to connect with:

  • A world-class school with a strong academic reputation
  • A top-notch faculty with deep experience in the field
  • A school with a well-recognized nursing program
  • An institution with strong academic and career support
  • A program that offers multiple options for NP students

For example, the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing enjoys both a proud history (it opened its doors in 1889) and a cutting-edge reputation as a nationally recognized institution for academic standards, diversity and inclusion efforts, technology application and research activity.

For more than a decade, the University of Cincinnati has been pioneering online nursing education across the nation. Offered through the College of Nursing, the University of Cincinnati Online has several strong options for aspiring nurse practitioners, including an FNP and an AGNP. Both programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Master of Science in Nursing: Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
Master of Science in Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner

Both degrees are offered 100% online and are structured to provide maximum scheduling flexibility, essential for busy working professionals who need to balance career and family responsibilities while working to earn your graduate degree.

Why become a nurse practitioner? One industry website summed it up as an opportunity to tackle an extremely challenging and satisfying job where you are needed, appreciated and well-compensated to “work hard and save lives.”

If you’d like to learn more about the University of Cincinnati’s online nurse practitioner master’s degree programs, contact us online to start a conversation.

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