Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) care for children through every stage of their lives. From birth to young adult, pediatric nurse practitioners have helped millions of patients since 1965. It was then that Dr. Loretta Ford and Dr. Hendry Silver developed the first nurse practitioner program at the University of Colorado. Pediatric nurse practitioners are a subspeciality of nurse practitioners.
In this article we will explore what pediatric nurse practitioners do:
- Why do we need pediatric nurse practitioners?
- What are pediatric nurse practitioner job duties?
- What is the process for becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner?
- What is the pediatric nurse practitioner salary and job outlook?
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.
Pediatric nurse practitioners can diagnose and treat patients and perform the same procedures as primary care physicians. This makes them an asset to any pediatric care team.
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What are pediatric nurse practitioner job duties?
Pediatric nurse practitioners can work in health care clinics, physician offices, and children’s hospitals. They work alongside healthcare teams to help prevent and treat disease, promote health, and educate family members on plans of care for specific childhood illnesses and injuries. Some of the most common job duties for pediatric nurse practitioners include:
- Administering childhood immunizations
- Conducting developmental screenings
- Performing well-child exams and school physicals
- Prescribing medications
- Treating common childhood illnesses and injuries
Pediatric nurse practitioners in 22 states currently enjoy full practice authority. This means they are not required to work under the supervision of a doctor. Alaska, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Washington were the first states to expand the scope of practice for PNPs. Rural states – especially those with physician shortages – followed suit in the 1990s.
What is the process for becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner?
Nurse practitioner specialties require the high level of education and experience of all the nursing professions. Here are the requirements you must meet to work as a pediatric nurse practitioner:
1. Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
This is the first step to becoming a PNP. Nurses can start with an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). They can then take additional courses toward a BSN while working as a nurse. An alternative is to spend up to four years earning a BSN directly. For some nurses, the ADN to BSN route is preferable since it allows them to work in their field while continuing their education. There are also RN to BSN bridge programs.
2. Become a licensed Registered Nurse (RN)
Some nursing professionals who already have their RN license decide to complete an RN to BSN bridge program. If you are in this situation, you can skip step two of the process. If you require your RN licensure, you must pass the NCLEX-RN. Always check with the state licensing board to make sure there are no other requirements for becoming a licensed RN other than passing the NCLEX-RN.
3. Gain experience
Before you can apply to a nurse practitioner program that offers specialized training in pediatric nursing, you must gain relevant nursing experience. These programs are extremely competitive, with admissions departments looking for the most dedicated nurses who will prove assets to the field. Most NP programs prefer candidates with one to three years of nursing experience, preferably in a pediatric care setting.
4. Complete an NP program
More than 400 academic institutions offer accredited nurse practitioner programs, with 100 of them specializing in pediatric acute care, pediatric primary care, or both. Each of these programs has its own admissions requirements. As a rule, applicants should be prepared to provide the following documentation with their applications:
- Evidence of at least one year working in a pediatric care setting
- Valid RN license
- BSN degree
- Professional references
5. Earn your certification
The final step in becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner is to earn a specialty certification through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. 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 pediatric nurse practitioner salary and job outlook?
As with other nurse practitioner specialties, the demand for PNPs is expected to increase by 45% between now and 2029. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists all nurse practitioner positions as growing at a pace much faster than the average for other professions during the same period. According to Salary.com, the average median salary for PNPs as of May 27, 2021, is $108,600. Indeed.com analysts examined the most recent job listings for pediatric nurse practitioners in the U.S. and compiled a list of the highest-paying cities. Their top five locations for PNPs are:
- Chicago, IL – $184,508 per year based on 7 salaries reported
- San Francisco, CA – $161,511 per year based on 5 salaries reported
- New York, NY – $142,282 per year based on 13 salaries reported
- St. Louis, MO – $129,968 per year based on 43 salaries reported
- Fresno, CA – $120,964 per year based on 5 salaries reported
PNPs can browse our list of job openings across the U.S., then use our nursing salary estimator to get a personalized salary estimate for any location. Want to learn more about what it is like to work as a PNP? Join our Incredible Health nurse community to connect with other nurses who can share their experiences and offer advice for your nursing journey.
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