The Acute Care CPNP®

The CPNP-AC exam validates entry-level skills and knowledge of graduates from master's degree or DNP degree programs or postgraduate certificate programs for acute care pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs). The acute care PNP role is distinct and separate from the primary care PNP role, and is dependent on patient care needs, not setting. Read about the primary care CPNP role here for comparison. The 2012 NONPF Statement on Acute Care and Primary Care Certified Nurse Practitioner Practice can also provide insight about distinctions between the two roles.

This exam is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and meets the National Council of State Boards of Nursing's APRN criteria for certification programs.

More Acute Care CPNP resources are available here.


The Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in acute care (CPNP-AC) provides family-centered and culturally respectful care for pediatric patients with acute, complex, critical, and chronic illness across a variety of care settings. The CPNP-AC works closely with an interprofessional team to provide the highest level of evidence-based care for infants, children, adolescents, and young adults with life-threatening illnesses and organ dysfunction or failure. Due to their unique health care needs, a patient outside the traditionally defined pediatric age parameters may be best served by the CPNP-AC. The practitioner in this role is responsible for independent and collaborative decision making with direct accountability for clinical judgment. The CPNP-AC monitors and ensures the quality of health care practice and assists the patient and family in negotiating health care delivery systems.

CPNP-AC Competencies

The competencies of CPNP-ACs are built upon nurse practitioner core competencies and are demonstrated through clinical practice, teaching, consultation, advocacy, and professional leadership activities. For an in-depth overview, see page 39 of Population-Focused Nurse Practitioner Competencies (PDF) published by NONPF (2013).

CPNP-AC Practice Setting

CPNP-ACs practice in a variety of health care settings including, but not limited to hospitals, intensive care units, subspecialty clinics, emergency departments, and the patient's home.

PNCB Certificant Code of Ethics

To support excellence in nursing practice, the PNCB assumes that every nurse certified by this organization will uphold and adhere to the Certificant Code of Ethics.

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