How Can I Become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?

Explore the career requirements for pediatric nurse practitioners. Get the facts about education, licensing requirements and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?

Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) are advanced practice nurses who provide primary care for infants, children and adolescents. They are qualified for a wide variety of healthcare practices, including patient evaluation, test analysis, diagnosis, and treatment plan development, including prescribing medications. Depending on the work environment, PNPs may work independently or alongside pediatricians or other doctors. In addition, they may play supervisory roles in health care centers or conduct research in a particular area of interest within pediatric medicine.

The following chart provides an overview about becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Nursing
Licensure or Certification Licensure as a registered nurse is required; board certification is available
Key Skills Good communication skills, attention to detail, critical thinking and compassion
Job Growth (2014-2024) 35% for all nurse practitioners*
Median Salary (2015) $98,190 for all nurse practitioners*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Education Do I Need to Become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?

In order to become a nurse practitioner, including one who works in pediatrics, you must first have a current registered nurse (RN) license. According to O*Net Online in 2014, 83% of all nurse practitioners held a master's degree; however, a doctoral degree can also prepare you for this position. Whatever type of degree you pursue, you will need to make sure the program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC).

In order to become a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP), the practitioner program must include courses in health assessment, pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology and disease prevention, among other topics. In addition, there must be studies in content differential diagnosis and disease management. At a minimum, 500 supervised clinical hours must be included in your PNP program.

How Can I Become Certified?

After completing your PNP program, you will seek licensure as a nurse practitioner, and there is another exam to pursue certification as a pediatric nurse practitioner. Each state has its own requirements, and nationally recognized certification may be obtained through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. You will need to recertify your credentials every few years by meeting certain continuing education and work-experience requirements.

What Can I Do With My Training?

Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) can work in areas of primary and acute care. As a primary care PNP, you may specialize in health maintenance and management of disease processes, as well as provide services that include routine developmental screenings, giving immunizations, performing school physicals and diagnosing and treating common childhood illnesses. If your area of focus is acute care, you may concentrate on restoring health and providing health care to children who are acutely, chronically and critically ill. As an acute care PNP, you will respond to changing clinical conditions, which could include recognizing and managing health crises. Both may practice in a variety of pediatric specialty areas.

What Can I Expect to Earn?

In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that nurse practitioners earned a median salary of approximately $98,190. The BLS also noted that the personal care services industry offered the highest mean salary, which was about $135,290.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are multiple career options for advanced practice nurses. Instead of focusing on pediatrics, nurse practitioners may choose to specialize in care for adults or geriatric patients. Another option is to become a nurse midwife; these professionals offer reproductive health services to women before, during and after childbirth, and they may provide primary care to infants after they are born. Nurse anesthetists are another type of advanced practice nurse. They are responsible for the administration of anesthesia during surgery, as well as patient care before and after the procedure. All of these advanced practice nurses need a master's degree and license in order to practice.

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