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University of Colorado College of Nursing

College of Nursing

Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Post-Graduate Certificate

Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

The Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PACNP) Post-Graduate Certificate (PGC) Program is designed to prepare graduates to care for children with complex acute, critical and chronic illness across the entire pediatric age spectrum, from birth to young adulthood, and across the continuum of care settings.  These settings include critical care units, emergency departments, inpatient units and ambulatory/specialty based clinics. The post-graduate certificate is specifically geared toward advanced practice nurses who currently hold primary care PNP certification.

Only a post-graduate certificate is available in this specialty. Please see the overview of the post-graduate certificate.

Program Plan

The PACNP PGC program requires a total of 17 academic credit hours (9 didactic course credits and 8 clinical practicum credits). Total length of time for completion of didactic course work is three semesters (the 8-10 week summer session is considered a semester). 

Didactic Course Work (9 credit hours)*
NURS6500 Pediatric Acute Care NP 1 (3 credit hours)                                        
NURS6510 Pediatric Acute Care NP 2 (3 credit hours)                                 
NURS6520 Pediatric Acute Care NP 3 (3 credit hours)

*primarily online with students required to attend a minimum of two 2-hour seminars for each course.

Clinical Hours (8 credit hours)**
NURS6756 – 3 credit hours
NURS6557 – 3 credit hours
NURS6558 – 2 credit hours

**Each credit hour equals 45 clock hours.  The total number of hours required for completion is a minimum of 360 hours (45 eight-hour days).  Students are NOT allowed to complete the clinical requirements for this certificate in a clinical area that they are employed in.

Program Plan Options:
Students may choose an expedited (3 semesters) or extended (4 semesters) program plan:

​   Semester ​   Didactic Course
​         Clinical ​ Hours (45 hours per credit)   
                Choose one option below:
​            Expedited (12 months)
Extended (16 months)
Fall ​NURS6500

3 Credits

3 Credits/17 days

2 Credits/9.5 days
​Spring ​NURS6510

3 Credits

3 Credits/17 days

2 Credits/9.5 days
Summer ​NURS6520

3 Credits

2 Credits/9.5 days

2 Credits/9.5 days
Fall ​No Course Work ​No Clinical ​NURS6758

2 Credits/9.5 days
​Total 9 Credits 8 Credits 17 Total Credits

Learner Competencies:
  1. Articulate the role of the PACNP as it pertains to scope of practice, reimbursement, legal, regulatory and legislative issues.
  2. Summarize the PACNP role on an interprofessional acute care team as it is related to communication, best practice and patient safety.
  3. Utilize evidence-based practice, research and technology for clinical decision-making in the pediatric acute care environment.
  4. Employ pediatric concepts such as child development, patient- and family-centered care, chronic disease and end-of-life care. 
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the identification, assessment, and management of acute pain in the pediatric patient.
  6. Distinguish between the pediatric patient with a stable acute condition and one who is
    unstable based on behavior, physiological changes and varied levels of care.
  7. Generate a diagnosis and evidence-based management plan for common acute and life-threatening conditions in pediatric care.


Jennifer A. Disabato, DNP, CPNP-PC, AC
Assistant Professor, College of Nursing
Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Specialty Coordinator
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Neurology; Children's Hospital Colorado 
Ann Petersen-Smith, PhD, RN, CPNP-PC,
Assistant Professor, College of Nursing
Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Specialty Coordinator 
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Emergency Department; Children's Hospital Colorado 


Q: ​How long is the Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program?
A: Three semesters (expedited plan) or four semesters (extended plan) for the program.

Q: Are clinical hours required?
A: Yes, you must already have 500 contact hours of pediatric nurse practitioner clinical to be eligible for admission. You must complete an additional 360 contact hours in acute care settings over 3-4 semesters.

Q: Is the program online?
A: Yes, the courses are online except for clinical experiences and approximately two class seminars for each didactic course.

Q: Will this prepare me to sit for acute care certification?
A: Yes, this was designed to allow you to sit for the pediatric acute care certification through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.

Q: When do you accept applications?
A: We only admit students for the fall semester each year for this specialty.

Admissions Requirements

The following materials are required for a complete application. Admissions decisions will be made after each deadline and following a faculty review. Individual applicant interviews may be requested. All materials submitted become the property of the University Of Colorado College Of Nursing.
Application Deadline for fall 2014: February 15, 2014.
  1. Current copy of certification verification as a Primary Care PNP by either the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (CPNP-PC) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (PNP-BC).
  2. Currently recognized as an APRN in Colorado (SBON Registry)
  3. Current Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) Certification
  4. Bachelor's degree in nursing from an NLN or CCNE accredited school or university.
  5. Master’s degree from an NLN or CCNE accredited Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program with documented minimum of 500 clinical hours including transcript documentation of Pathophysiology, Pharmacology, Physical Assessment (The 3 P's).
  6. Proof of nursing accreditation from the schools for both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing. This information can be obtained from the NLN or CCNE web sites or from the institutions.
  7. One copy of the official transcript from each college or university from which the bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing were earned. The College of Nursing now accepts eTranscripts. Please email your eTranscripts to Official transcripts are those sent directly from the registrar’s office of the issuing institution to the University of Colorado College of Nursing, Office of Student Affairs and Diversity.)
  8. Three (3) letters of reference with at least one academic reference: The online application data system will require you to submit the names, telephone numbers and e-mail address for your recommenders. Once you complete your application and hit submit, your recommenders will receive an e-mail with instructions, along with information and an e-address to submit their recommendation on your behalf. It will take the data system approximately 24-72 hours to deliver this information to the recommender once you have submitted your application.
  9. Completed application for admission. Link to admissions from the College of Nursing Post Master's Certificate admissions page:  PMC - Admissions
  10. Non-refundable application fee of $65 is payable online in the application.
  11. Copy of current and unencumbered Colorado RN license – must be submitted prior to matriculation.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Minimum of 3 years of work experience in a pediatric acute, critical or emergent care setting
  • For academic years 2014-15 and 2015-16, preference will be given to Primary Care Certified PNPs actively practicing in an acute care setting