Become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in 5 Steps
Research what it takes to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. Learn about job duties, education and licensing requirements to find out if this is the career for you.
What Is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?
As a pediatric nurse practitioner, you'd work with infants, children and adolescents to help physicians determine the nature of patients' illnesses and the most effective treatment. Pediatric nurse practitioners record patient history, examine patients and use medical equipment. They also must be able to give medicine to patients, educate patients in how to deal with their illness or injury and carry out research. 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 Responsibilities||Diagnose and treat disease, illness and injury typically found in children and adolescents; order and perform diagnostic tests; prescribe medication; maintain patient records; advise parents of child's healthcare and treatments|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||28% for all nurse practitioners*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$107,030 for all nurse practitioners*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
What Does a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Do?
As a pediatric nurse practitioner, you provide care and support to ailing children and their families. Like doctors, you want to have analytical and decision-making skills to make quick and sound decisions. You work with physicians to provide acute and long-term care to children under the age of 18. Other responsibilities may include assisting in bandaging, treatments and surgeries. You take down patient history, administer drugs and work with parents to discuss treatment options.
Step One: Earn an Associate Degree in Nursing
The first step to becoming a licensed nurse can be an associate degree program in nursing (ADN). These programs teach you the basics to becoming a nurse and handling patients. Courses in bedside care, anatomy, pharmacology, medical terminology and assessment procedures prepare you to complete a clinical practicum.
Step Two: Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is usually required to enter into a master's degree program in a nursing specialty. This program is similar to the ADN; however, it allows you to take additional courses in nursing skills, patient care and health maintenance. You are also able to add additional clinical experience to put toward your licensing requirements.
Step Three: Earn Licensure
After you've completed your nursing associate degree or bachelor's degree, you're eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensing exam (www.ncsbn.org). Each state uses the NCLEX exam to meet licensing requirements, but each state varies, so be sure to check with your state's board of nursing.
Step Four: Enroll in a Nursing Practitioner Program
After obtaining at least one year of nursing experience, look for a Master of Science in Nursing with a nurse practitioner specialty. A master's degree program allows you to complete a nurse-supervised clinical practicum, during which you learn how to work specifically with children in a pediatric setting. Courses train you in health promotion, acute care, pediatric diseases, pediatric oncology, child psychology and child development.
Step Five: Obtain Certification
The American Nurses Credentialing Center awards a pediatric nurse practitioner certification. To sit for the certification exam, you need an active RN license and a master's degree in a pediatric nurse practitioner program (www.nursecredentialing.org). You may also want to register with the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners so potential employers may find you (www.napnap.org).
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
If becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner isn't what you see yourself doing, there are several other career options that are similar and require the same amount of education. If you are still interested in becoming a nurse practitioner, other specialties are offered in areas like geriatric and psychiatric nursing. Geriatric nurse practitioners work with elderly patients, while psychiatric nurse practitioners work with those who need assistance with their mental health.
Occupational therapy is another career option. Occupational therapists help patients recover from an illness or injury so that they can gain skills needed in everyday life. Physician assistants also have some similar duties. A physician assistant works with doctors to help with diagnostic tests, treatment and recording medical information.