Nurse Types / Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) care for children through every stage of their youth, from newborns to young adults.
In this article we will explore what pediatric nurse practitioners do, and what it takes to become one.
What do pediatric nurse practitioners do?
Pediatric Nurse Practitioners are indispensable members of healthcare teams, chiefly employed in clinics, physician’s offices, and children’s hospitals. Their primary mission is to uphold and enhance child health through preventive measures, timely medical intervention, and educational outreach to families. As adept clinicians, they undertake a variety of responsibilities including:
- Conducting developmental assessments to monitor growth and maturation
- Performing routine wellness checks and school physicals
- Prescribing necessary medications under a defined scope of practice
- Addressing common childhood ailments and injuries with evidence-based treatments
- Ensuring immunization compliance by keeping accurate records
- And administering vital immunizations, although this task is commonly handled by nurses
In many U.S. states, pediatric nurse practitioners enjoy full practice authority. This means they are not required to work under the supervision of a doctor.
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Why do we need pediatric nurse practitioners?
With healthcare costs continuing to rise in the U.S., pediatric nurse practitioners help lower the cost of healthcare and ensure accessibility. They also help fill the gap with the ongoing primary care physician shortage in the U.S. The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts by 2033, the U.S. will face a shortage of between 54,100 and 139,000 physicians.
In many U.S. states, pediatric nurse practitioners enjoy full practice authority. This means they are not required to work under the supervision of a doctor. In these states, PNPs can diagnose and treat patients as well as perform the same procedures as primary care physicians. This makes them an asset to any pediatric care team and the broader community.
What is the process for becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner?
Becoming a nurse practitioner requires achieving a high level of education, certification, and experience. Below is a simplified roadmap of the steps you need to take to work as a pediatric nurse practitioner:
Step 1. Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
BSN programs are four-year undergraduate programs that prepare students for the nursing profession. These programs teach students a wide range of topics, including anatomy, physiology, nutrition, pharmacology, and nursing skills. BSN programs emphasize critical thinking, problem-solving, communication skills, and also include clinical rotations, which allow students to gain hands-on experience in a variety of healthcare settings.
Step 2. Become a licensed Registered Nurse (RN)
To become a licensed RN, students must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). After passing the NCLEX-RN, students can apply for licensure in the state where they plan to work.
Step 3. Gain experience as an RN, preferably in a pediatric care setting
Most NP programs require applicants to have at least one year of experience as an RN, preferably in a pediatric care setting if you hope to work as a pediatric nurse practitioner. This experience gives students the opportunity to develop their nursing skills and knowledge, and to learn about the specific needs of pediatric patients.
Step 4. Complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program
MSN and DNP programs in pediatric nurse practitioner studies typically take two to four years to complete. These programs teach students advanced nursing skills and knowledge, and prepare them to provide primary and specialty care to pediatric patients.
Step 5. Earn certification
To become a certified pediatric nurse practitioner, students must pass an exam administered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB). Certification demonstrates that a nurse practitioner has met the highest standards of education and practice in pediatric nursing.
The PNCB offers two specialty certifications. Nurses can apply to earn one or both:
- Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care (CPNP-PC): This certification option is suited to PNPs who plan to focus on providing preventative and ongoing healthcare services to infants, children, adolescents, and young adults through age 21.
- Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care (CPNP-AC): PNPs who wish to concentrate on providing acute care to infants, children, adolescents, and young adults through age 21 should seek this certification. Most PNPs who apply for this certification work in emergency rooms, hospitals, surgical units, and specialty care clinics.
What is the career outlook for pediatric nurse practitioners?
As with other nurse practitioner specialties, the demand for PNPs is expected to increase by 40% from 2021 to 2031. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects nurse practitioner positions to grow at a pace much faster than the average for other professions during the same period.
As of May 2021, the average salary for a nurse practitioner in the United States is $118,040, making them among the healthcare professions with the highest earning potential.
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Long Branch, NJ | $70,920 to $117,990 /year
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