Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNPs) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) responsible for providing primary care to children under the supervision of a physician. Individuals who opt for a career in pediatric nursing typically find it highly rewarding, both intrinsically and financially. If you want to learn more about this career path, the following guide has all the information you need, including how to become a pediatric nurse practitioner and potential salary and job outlook.
What is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?
Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNPs) are specialized medical professionals who provide healthcare services to children from birth to adolescence. PNPs focus on growth and development and manage different acute or chronic illnesses in their young patients. These nurses typically focus on patient education, diagnose and treat illnesses and administer vaccinations, among other medical procedures related to children.
What Does a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Do?
Pediatric nurse practitioners typically work with pediatricians or physicians, though they might work independently as well in different healthcare settings. PNPs provide services such as counseling children and their families on issues related to healthcare, diagnosing and treating common illnesses in young patients and performing routine screenings to determine growth and development in children. Besides that, pediatric nurse practitioners also conduct school physicals, childhood immunizations and well-child exams. Some states may allow pediatric nurse practitioners to provide medical prescriptions as well.
How to Become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?
In order to join the field of medicine as a pediatric nurse practitioner, individuals will have to complete a series of steps and fulfill certain educational, experience, and licensure requirements. Let’s have a look at the steps to become a pediatric nurse practitioner in the US.
Aspiring nurses who want to enter the field of pediatrics must complete at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Common courses at this educational level would include biology, anatomy, chemistry and psychology.
Before nursing graduates can practice, they need to get licensed by clearing the NCLEX-RN exam. This is also an admission requirement for getting into a master’s degree in nursing.
After obtaining the RN licensure, students will have to enroll in a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree with a concentration in pediatric care. Specific specialization options may also be available, such as pediatric oncology, pediatric acute care or pediatric critical care. Clinical hours must be completed as part of this degree and should teach nurses how to take care of common health issues and chronic diseases in children. Practical experience enables future nurses to work with different populations and a variety of different health conditions.
Aspiring pediatric nurse practitioners need to earn a certification in pediatrics to be eligible to practice. Several certification options are available including the Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner–Primary Care (CPNP-PC) specialization offered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) and the Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner–Board Certified (PPCNP-BC) credential offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
Pediatric nurse practitioners can find work in a variety of healthcare settings such as hospitals, children’s clinics, community health organizations, etc. Licensure for pediatric nurse practitioners has to be maintained through regular renewals and continuing education courses. The CPNP-PC credential is valid for 7 years, while the PPCNP-BC qualification must be renewed after 5 years.
Online Study Options for Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
Many institutes are now offering online study options for aspiring pediatric nurse practitioners. Online programs offer live or pre-recorded web-based lessons in various medical fields. For the clinical hour requirements, students are typically required to work at a local healthcare facility. Online programs are available at the bachelor and master’s levels, with requirements varying by state and institution. Some medical colleges also offer hybrid programs that have several online components, along with some traditional classroom experiences.
Licensure Requirements for a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
In order to get a license to practice as a pediatric nurse practitioner, individuals will be required to complete a series of certification requirements. Each certification has its own set of requirements. For instance, if you plan on getting the Primary Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-PC) credential, you will need to have an active RN license, at least a master’s degree with a concentration in pediatric care, 500 clinical hours of supervised practice in primary care pediatrics and at least three graduate level courses in advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacology and advanced physiology/pathology.
Each kind of certification would also have a renewal requirement. For the CPNP-PC certification, pediatric nurse practitioners will have to take part in the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board’s recertification program.
Students are advised to check the licensure and renewal requirements for the certification they choose to complete.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Specializations
Students who intend to focus on a specific area of pediatric care can go for further specialization in areas such as pediatric oncology, palliative care, holistic care, cardiology, gastroenterology, orthopedics, neurology, dermatology or infectious diseases. Some sub-specialties may not require an additional certification exam. Students are advised to check the requirements for their chosen sub-specialty before opting for one.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program Accreditation
Individuals aspiring to become pediatric nurse practitioners should make sure that their chosen nursing programs are accredited by reputable organizations. The US Department of Education recognizes two bodies for accreditation of nursing programs – the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). A program that is accredited by either of these organizations would have been evaluated for quality in terms of student outcomes, program goals, and curriculum. For PNP programs, students are advised to look for schools that are recognized by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB), which is one of the primary national certification organizations for pediatrics specialties.
Scholarships for Pediatric Endocrinology Nurses
The Pediatric Endocrinology Nursing Society offers the PENS Conference Reimbursement Scholarship to aspiring pediatric endocrinology nurses in the US. The scholarship enables pediatric endocrine nurses to increase their knowledge and understanding of growth disorders, conduct endocrine nursing research, and work on current problems in pediatric endocrinology nursing. Other popular scholarships include the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta CHANCES Scholarship, The Christy-Houston Foundation Scholarship Program, and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Scholarship Program (NAPNAP).
What does a Pediatric Endocrinology Nurse do?
Pediatric endocrinology nurses usually work as a part of a team of physicians and other medical staff on a variety of healthcare issues related to children. They might also work directly with patients and their families, diagnosing and treating various health conditions, problems such as delayed growth, developmental disorders, thyroid disorders, endocrine abnormalities and hypoglycemia, etc. The job of a pediatric endocrinology nurse would be to educate their patients on how health problems can be managed in children, with advice about medication and nutrition choices in particular. Basic medical tasks might include drawing blood samples, consulting with physicians and monitoring patients.
What does it take to be a Successful Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?
Certain personality traits and skills can make pediatric nurse practitioners successful in their careers. Pediatric nurse practitioners ought to be compassionate, gentle and highly detail-oriented. Other than that, they should have excellent communication and critical thinking skills. Nurses in this field are expected to build strong relations with children by making use of small, fun techniques. This could include minor efforts like thematic scrubs with princess characters or colorful stethoscopes. Making these small efforts can go a long way in making the young patients feel comfortable around the medical staff. In addition, pediatric nurse practitioners, like all nurse practitioners, ought to be very responsible, competent and observant.
The Pros and Cons of Becoming a PNP
As with all career options, becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner has its own advantages and disadvantages. The following list of pros and cons will help aspiring pediatric nurses make a well-informed decision.
Advantages of Becoming a PNP
- A pediatric nurse practitioner would have a greater degree of responsibility associated with their job, as compared to other nursing credentials such as registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, etc.
- Positive career growth for all nurse practitioners, including pediatric nurse practitioners, is expected, as per data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the latest data available, the job outlook for Nurse Practitioners in the US is expected to be 45% for the years between 2019 and 2029.
- High median income of $111,680 for Nurse Practitioners in May 2020, as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- High job satisfaction due to a focus on building long term patient relations and managing acute and chronic illnesses.
Disadvantages of Becoming a PNP
- Lengthy education process, including a 4-year long bachelor’s degree, a 2-year long master’s degree and post-graduate certifications followed by certification exams.
- Comprehensive licensure and certification requirements. Students are required to have an active RN licensure, along with a national board certification in order to practice as a pediatric nurse practitioner.
- Tough work routine as there can be long hours of walking and standing on duty. In addition to that, high workload might mean being on duty for most part of the day.
- Legal responsibilities that are associated with diagnosing and treating patients.
How Much Does a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Make?
The exact salary data for a pediatric nurse practitioner is not available on credible salary statistics websites. However, as per O*Net Online, the median salary for the broader category of Nurse Practitioners was $111,680 in 2020. Pediatric Nurse Practitioners are specialized Nurse Practitioners who have completed training and education hours in addition to the standard requirement of at least a graduate degree. Most Pediatric Nurse Practitioners would have completed at least a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a concentration in Pediatrics. Therefore, it is safe to say that their salary bracket would typically be slightly higher than that for Nurse Practitioners.