Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Acute Care (PNP-AC)


The Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Acute Care (PNP-AC) provides family-centered care to meet the specialized needs of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults with unstable chronic, complex acute, and critical health conditions. PNP-ACs care for pediatric patients with that require complex monitoring and ongoing management of intensive therapies in a variety of settings with a focus on restorative care during rapidly changing clinical conditions. They can be found working closely with interprofessional teams to provide high quality, evidence-based care in areas such as hospital-based pediatric acute care areas, pediatric intensive care units, pediatric cardiac intensive care units, emergency departments, and pediatric specialty practices that manage acutely ill patients across the spectrum of care settings from outpatient, to inpatient, and through discharge.

The PNP-AC specialty prepares clinicians that are responsible leaders in the care of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults with chronic, acute, complex, and critical health conditions. Emphasis is placed on developing PNP-AC students’ expertise and accountability in the clinical management of acutely ill pediatric patients in a wide variety of acute care clinical environments where they will work with interprofessional teams to make independent and collaborative decisions in the care of diverse, vulnerable, and underserved children. The UCSF PNP-AC specialty strives to develop students to provide care that is diverse, inclusive, and equitable with the goals of reducing health disparities and improving health care access during pediatric illness.

Graduates of this specialty are leaders in pediatric health care in the Bay Area and beyond. The PNP-AC specialty is the only one of its kind in California.

Certifications and Licenses

Graduates of the PNP-AC specialty are eligible for state licensure and to take the Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care (CPNP-AC) national certification examination offered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB).

Application Requirements and Deadlines

For Master of Science and Post-Master's Students
Is RN experience required? Yes. PNP-AC applicants are expected to have a minimum of one year of acute care pediatric nursing experience prior to beginning the PNP-AC specialty.
Other admissions requirements specific to this specialty

Two or more years of acute care pediatric nursing experience is highly recommended.

Fluency in spoken and written English is mandatory for acceptance into the specialty.

The PNP-AC specialty is academically rigorous. Prospective students are recommended to spend no more than 60 percent time (24 hours per week) in work or other professional commitments during their graduate study.

Application deadline June 1, 2023


Year 1 is comprised of Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters. Didactic coursework is focused on developing competency in the graduate core curriculum, which includes courses in advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology courses across the lifespan, in addition to gaining crucial skills in interprofessional collaboration, nursing research, evidence-based practice, and population health. Clinical coursework is focused on students progressing in their pediatric knowledge with immersive experiences in advanced pediatric physiology, assessment, skills/procedures lab, nutrition, health promotion, and primary care, in addition to clinical rotations in pediatric primary and specialty care. Acute care pediatric specialty coursework is focused on health promotion for children with medical complexity, symptom assessment and management of sick children, and transitions in pediatric illness.

Year 2 is comprised of Summer II, Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters. Students can expect to be on campus and in class for three intensive learning sessions each quarter (1-2 full days of lecture every 4-5 weeks), with web-based course content between intensive sessions. Didactic and clinical coursework are focused primarily on advanced physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, diagnostics, and advanced nursing practice in the management of infants, children, and adolescents with medical complexity in acute care settings. Each course is system-based with an emphasis on examining the scientific literature and applying evidence-based practice to guide the assessment, diagnosis, and management of acutely ill pediatric patients. Clinical rotations are in high acuity pediatric settings. Further graduate core coursework focusing on project development, professional issues and leaders.

The curriculum meets California Board of Registered Nursing requirements for Nurse Practitioner education programs and licensure, as well as PNCB requirements to sit for the CPNP-AC Examination. Students are required to successfully complete a minimum of 600 clinical hours during the PNP-AC specialty.

Please note: Clinical placements and preceptor selections are made by faculty. Students are not required or expected to locate their own preceptors. Some travel within California may be required for clinical rotations.

Some of our world-class partner clinical sites include: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital of San Francisco; UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital of Oakland; Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford in Palo Alto, CA; Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles; UC Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento, CA; and Valley Children’s Hospital in Fresno, CA.

View the sample curriculum for this specialty. Please note that courses are subject to change.

Post-Master's Certificate Program

The number of quarters required for the post-graduate PNP-AC specialty varies based on prior graduate preparation and generally requires 3 to 7 quarters of study. Contact the specialty coordinator for consultation on an individualized post-master's curriculum.

Learn more, including how to apply, in the Post-Master's Certificate Program section of our website. (Please note that post-master's applicants do not need to fulfill a statistics requirement.)


Brittany Christiansen, PhD, DNP, CPNP-PC/AC
Mary E. Lynch, DNP, MPH, FAAN
Rebecca Silvers, DNP, CPNP-AC, CCRN
Molly Szuminiski, MS, RN, CPNP
Sandra L. Staveski, PhD, RN, CPNP-AC

Contact Us

Specialty Coordinator: Brittany Christiansen, PhD, DNP, CPNP-PC/AC
[email protected]

Administrative Assistant: Griselda Thomas
[email protected]