What Are the Duties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners?

Pediatric nurse practitioners are registered nurses who provide primary care to patients from birth through adolescence. If you want to know more about the job duties and education requirements of these advanced practice nurses, keep reading. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

A pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) performs many of the duties that might otherwise be performed by a pediatrician. According to the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates and Practitioners, they may also work under the supervision of physicians in a specialty area, like cardiology or gastroenterology (www.napnap.org). Some of their basic job duties are outlined below.

Important Facts About This Career

Licensing Licensure as a registered nurse (RN) is required in all states; certification through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board is available
Training Clinical nursing experience is generally required for admission to PNP program; students must complete clinical training as part of their curriculum as well
Key Skills Critical thinking, detail oriented, compassion, communication skills, interpersonal skills
Similar Occupations Physician, physical therapist, physician assistant, occupational therapist

General Child Care

As a pediatric nurse practitioner, you'll perform routine examinations to make sure patients are developing language, social, and motor skills at the appropriate ages. You may also administer immunizations and advise parents on disease prevention and injury care. Although you may work with other health care professionals, most of your work will be done independently.

Acute or Chronic Care

Pediatric nurse practitioners are responsible for diagnosing and treating patients who are suffering from common illnesses, such as influenza or chicken pox. Children and adolescents with chronic health conditions will need your care as well. Your responsibilities could include reading laboratory or X-ray results, prescribing medication, and developing a long-term treatment plan. You will also follow up with patients to ensure that your course of treatment is effective.

Infant Care

Pediatric nurse practitioners also work with infants and newborns. You could provide prenatal and breast feeding consultations to expectant mothers, visit patients in a hospital's neonatal care unit, or counsel parents on proper infant nutrition.

Educational Requirements

The first step towards becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner is to get your bachelor's degree in nursing. You can then enroll in a Master of Science in Nursing program. These programs, requiring one to two years to complete, include courses in clinical assessment, pharmacology, developmental physiology, and infant primary care. You'll also need to complete clinical practicums under the supervision of a licensed nurse practitioner or physician. After earning your master's degree, you're ready to become a board certified pediatric nurse practitioner and begin your career in a local or state health department, private practice, clinic, or hospital.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employed nurse practitioners was expected to increase 34% during the 2012-2022 decade, which is notably faster than the national average for all career fields. In general, nurse practitioners earned a median salary of $95,350 as of 2014.

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