Ensure evidence-based care to achieve the best possible patient outcomes in complex and acute settings


For nurses looking for expertise in acute care, Loyola Nursing's Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist (AGACCNS) track prepares you for the next level of leadership. 

By enrolling in Loyola's AGACCNS track, you will learn the advanced skills to care for adults in increasingly complex acute and critical care settings. Our curriculum focuses on three spheres of impact: patient care, nursing personnel, and the health care system. As a graduate, you will possess the core competencies to practice as a CNS for acute and critically ill adult patients in a variety of inpatients settings, including direct care, consultation, systems leadership, collaboration, research, ethical decision-making, and advocacy. 

Our Commitment to You


Graduates of Loyola's AGACCNS track will possess the following knowledge, competencies, and professional values to develop, deliver, and evaluate adult patient care through all phases of hospitalization and follow-up.



You will learn: 

  • Population health principles and concepts
  • Theoretical, conceptual, and evidence-based foundations for the CNS role in caring for acutely ill adults
  • Patient evaluation and triage protocols
  • Methods of advanced physical and health assessment and history taking
  • Advanced pharmacology and pharmacotherapeutics
  • Advanced physiology of health and illness
  • Management of acute/critical health problems in adult and gerontologic populations
  • Clinical organizational structure, workflow, and operational procedures
  • Accreditation and certification requirements and standards
  • Safety principles and practices through CNS spheres of influence
  • Systems thinking principles and concepts
  • Resource management in health care
  • Quality improvement principles and practices
  • Health care policy and advocacy
  • Health care economics and finance
  • Decision-making tools and processes



You will be able to: 

  • Conduct advanced physical assessments and health histories for adult and gerontologic patients in an acute care setting
  • Collaborate with inter-professional teams in addressing patient care issues
  • Implement improvements in health care delivery systems
  • Develop, influence, and evaluate population-based programs of care
  • Assess staff competency
  • Analyze trends, issues, and evidence in health care and health care systems
  • Integrate the best evidence and patient preferences into the development, delivery, and evaluation of care
  • Foster and maintain team partnerships in collaborative health care environments



Loyola Nursing is committed to preparing nurse leaders that value:

  • The hallmark characteristics of a Jesuit education:
    • Commitment to excellence
    • Faith in God
    • Service that promotes justice
    • Values-based leadership
    • Global awareness
  • Ethical and moral judgement
  • Eliminating health disparities
  • Promoting patient safety and excellence in nursing practice
  • Engaging in leadership activities through intra- and inter-professional collaboration
  • Ensuring equity in health policy
  • Accountability to patients, society, and the profession



Loyola University Chicago is one of only a few universities in the country to offer an online Adult-Gerontology Acute Care CNS program. Our hybrid approach includes online and in-person courses, including Immersion weekends at Loyola's Health Sciences Campus. 



64 credit hours



Core Courses:  

  • Theories & Concepts for Advanced Clinical Practice 
  • Research for Advanced Clinical Practice 
  • Population-Focused Health 
  • Leadership and Roles in Advanced Nursing Practice 
  • Healthcare Policy and Economics 
  • Social Justice and Ethics in Healthcare 
  • Statistics for Health and Biological Sciences 
  • Evidence Translation for Advanced Clinical Practice 
  • DNP Project  

Role (CNS) Courses: 

  • Advanced Health Assessment Across the Lifespan 
  • Advanced Pharmacology 
  • Advanced Pathophysiology 
  • Advanced Quality and Safety in Health Care
  • CNS Practice Across the Adult-Age Spectrum

Population (Adult-Gerontology Acute Care) Courses: 

  • Management of Adults with Acute/Critical Conditions I
  • Management of Adults with Acute/Critical Conditions II 


  • Clinical Practicum for Advanced Practice Nurses in the CNS role 
  • Interprofessional Education Practicum



All our practicums are designed by faculty members, who will help you secure your clinical site placements. Practicum experiences for the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care CNS program can be completed in the student’s geographical area. Students must have an RN license in before they begin clinical rotations.



You must be a Registered Nurse with a baccalaureate or master's degree in nursing from an accredited program to apply. Admission is competitive and based on the strength of application materials and interview.

Begin your journey to becoming a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner! Learn more about the specific application requirements.

Questions? Contact Program Track Director Patricia Friend, PhD, APN-CNS, AOCNS, AGN-BC, at pfriend@luc.edu

Tuition and Financial Aid

The Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and Loyola's Financial Aid Office are committed to helping students secure the financial resources to make their education at Loyola affordable.