What is the Difference Between an FNP and an ACNP?

FNP vs ACNP: What are The Differences?
FNP vs ACNP: What are The Differences?

While the two jobs have some similarities, an advanced nursing practice (ANP) and a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) differ in their scope of practice, training, and responsibilities. Both positions involve treating patients, but that’s where the similarities end. An advanced nursing practice is a highly specialized field with many similarities to medicine. Both nursing programs and doctorates are ways to become an ACNP. The difference between an ACNP and an FNP lies in the scope of practice for each individual practitioner. ACNPs are nurses who have earned a master’s degree and at least two years of experience working in a hospital or other medical setting. In general, they are qualified to diagnose conditions and act as treatment providers for a particular patient population or condition. They also take on other expanded nursing responsibilities such as providing patient education or counseling patients about their health care needs.

What Is the Difference Between an FNP and an ACNP?

Both FNP and ACNP offer competent, reliable nursing care. However, the difference between the two is in their scope of practice and degree of independence. An FNP works as a generalist who can provide expert care in a wide variety of settings. In contrast, an ACNP is a specialist who works in a specific area of expertise. For example, an anesthesiologist may be an expert in the use of regional anesthetics, but she may not be an expert in all areas of anesthesiology. While both FNP and ACNP are registered nurses, the latter specializes in one particular area of nursing, while the former specializes in generalist care.

Specialist (PhD) versus Anamnesis and Diagnostic Surgeon (M.S.).

Some CNSs earn a doctorate in nursing and complete their specialty training in an anesthesiology residency or a surgery ICU. Others become anesthesiologists after completing their specialty training and then enter a research role. Both paths are called a “post-doctoral” program. Both specialties are recognized world-wide for their expertise in the treatment of patients with anesthesia. However, anesthesiologists have a more demanding post-graduate academic path which usually requires additional training before becoming a specialist.


The main difference between an ACNP and an FNP is in their education. An FNP generally begins her career as a generalist registered nurse, while an ACNP applies for and completes a specialty license nursing program. The difference between an ANP and a CNS is more technical in nature. An ANP is a generalist who has obtained a master’s degree in nursing, while a CNS is a specialist with a doctorate in nursing.

How to Become an Anesthesia Nurse

To become an anesthesiology nurse, you must first complete an accredited anesthesia post-graduate training program leading to a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree. It is also common to see these programs accredited by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). After successful completion of the nursing program, you must complete 72 hours of clinical experience as an anesthesiology or critical-care nurse assistant. This may be hours spent in a hospital unit as an anesthesiology or critical-care nurse, or in an ambulance, clinic, or other settings. For your clinical experience, you must also complete 40 hours of additional nursing experience as a critical-care nurse.


Both FNP and ACNP are qualified and certified professionals who provide expert nursing care. However, the scope of practice of an FNP is much broader than that of a CNS. This is due to the fact that an FNP works in both a medical and an nursing setting. In addition, she may have additional expanded responsibilities as an anesthesia consultant or consultant to other specialties such as radiology or pathology. On the other hand, the title of clinical nurse specialist (CNS) was first established in 1976 as a professional designation for nursing professionals who had advanced certifications in nursing, particularly nurse anesthetists (now referred to as CNSs). There are many similarities between the FNP and the CNS. Both specialties are primarily concerned with treating patients, but the difference is that the FNP focuses its attention on a larger population while the CNS specializes in a smaller group of patients. The job of the CNS is also similar to the role of a nursing assistant. The CNS assists the anesthesiologist in a variety of ways, including monitoring the anesthetic patient, providing physical support during procedures, and troubleshooting medical problems.

Noah Chapman
Hello, Im Noah Chapman. Im Editor And SEO analysis for Cambridgehack.com. Im a man with 3 beautiful angels towards me. That my beautiful wife, and two beautiful daughters.