What Is A Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?
A pediatric nurse practitioner, also known as a PNP, is a nurse that specializes in providing care to infants, toddlers, and children. This is a necessary role in the field of nursing as children require care that is different to that of adults. Consequently professionals in this area need to be trained. This is one of the more popular nurse specialties and there is therefore a fair amount of competition for these positions.
Nature Of The Work/duties
The nature of the work that a PNP does is very similar to what any nurse would do, except it is focused on children. These are the main tasks that a pediatric nurse practitioner is required to perform on a daily basis in a health care setting:
- A pediatric nurse practitioner cares for patients under the age of 18.
- A pediatric nurse practitioner may be a patient’s main medical caregiver.
- A pediatric nurse practitioner diagnoses and treats chronic diseases, injuries, illnesses and infections in children.
- A pediatric nurse practitioner assists the families of chronically ill or sick children.
- A pediatric nurse practitioner may perform physical examinations and rehabilitation treatments.
- A pediatric nurse practitioner provides preventative care information for parents and teaches them how to care for a child at home.
As a pediatric nurse you can be employed in any setting where children (defined as anyone under the age of 18) are treated. This includes the care of children. Consequently it is normal for pediatric nurse practitioner to work in:
- Doctors’ offices, and
Pediatric nurse practitioners are often employed in areas where childcare is required if a doctor or physician is not a practical option due to budgetary constraints. Consequently you may have the opportunity to work autonomously and have a high degree of control as a pediatric nurse practitioner.
This is a popular employment option for nurses as many of them feel that nursing children is an important part of health care. Consequently there may be a high level of competition for employment in this arena.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Requirements
The following are the basic requirements for being a pediatric nurse practitioner:
- You will need a Bachelor of Science in nursing from an accredited university.
- You will need to become registered as a nurse soon after completing your four-year degree.
- You will need to gain work at a medical facility that treats children.
- You will need to complete a pediatric internship offered by the clinic or hospital where you work.
- You will need to pass the Certified Pediatric Nurse Exam.
Once you have done all this you will be able to apply for jobs as a pediatric nurse practitioner in a number of different facilities that have a primary focus on treating children. The qualification will allow you to work anywhere where children are treated for illnesses or injuries.
There are a number of personality traits that you will find very useful in pediatric nursing. These include:
- Strong interpersonal skills
- An ability to manage stress well
- A love for caring for children
- A sympathetic nature
- A personable nature
- An ability to pay strong attention to detail
- A willingness to face young children with life-threatening illnesses
- Emotional stability for handling difficult situations
- An ability to work well under pressure
- An ability to make responsible decisions quickly
This line of nursing is not for everyone as it requires a mix of compassion and objectivity when dealing with children. Often children die, something that you must decide at a personal level whether or not you will be able to cope with.
To be a pediatric nurse practitioner you have to meet the following educational requirements:
- You must have an RN qualification from an accredited RN training course or school. This educational step takes about 4 years to complete. You need, at the very least, and associate’s degree in nursing. Before you can enter into an RN degree program you have to have met the educational prerequisites specified (high school diploma, a pass on any basic skills tests the school requires).
- You will then be required to gain an additional a master’s degree in nursing with a pediatric nurse practitioner focus. This is the course that will prepare you specifically for the role of being a PNP.
- Some states may require that you obtain additional pediatric nurse practitioner qualifications by completing additional coursework.
The only licensure involved in becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner is your RN license, which you have to hold before you can be accepted into a master’s program with a focus on pediatric nursing. In order to get this license you will have to first complete your undergraduate qualification in nursing. This must be done at an accredited school. Once you have done this present the transcript of your studies to your state’s board of nursing. Apply for a license. If you are approved you will then have to write the NCLEX-RN examination in order to actually receive your license. The test is computer based and lasts 2 to 5 hours depending on how long it takes you to answer the questions. When you pass the test your state board of nursing will license you.
How To Become A Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications
In order to become a pediatric nurse practitioner you have to complete a master’s degree. Before you can enter a master’s degree program of this nature you have to:
- Have a nursing license
- Have work experience of a year as a registered nurse (RN)
In order to specialize in pediatric nursing you will first have to complete the core nursing courses, which include nursing theories, research methods in nursing, advanced practice nursing, as well as pharmacology and pathophysiology. Programs that focus on pediatric nursing include:
- Health promotion
- Disease prevention
- Health maintenance
- Pediatric theory
Training will consist of theory knowledge as well as of actual clinical practice and application of that theory knowledge. You will be unable to qualify as a pediatric nurse practitioner if you have not met all of the training requirements.
Source An Accredited Education Program
It is essential that you do your training through an accredited program. If you do not your qualification will not be taken seriously and you will have wasted your time and your money on it. The following is a list of just some of the accredited universities that you could consider:
- The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA
- Yale University in New Haven, CT
- The University of Washington in Seattle, WA
- The University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA
- Duke University in Durham, NC
- Rush University in Chicago, IL
- Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD
- The University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA
- The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI
- The University of Illinois in Chicago, IL
- The University of Maryland in Baltimore, MD
Earn Your Associate’s Degree
Earning your associate’s degree is a good starting point when becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner, but ultimately you will need to hold a bachelor’s degree at the very least if you are to be properly certified and licensed as practitioner a in this particular area of nursing specialization. Although it is possible to be an RN with just an associate’s degree you, if at some point during your RN career decide that you want to specialize in pediatrics, you will have to go back to school and complete your qualification so that you are an RN that holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This will take anything between 2 and 4 years, depending on the level of education that you have before you enroll in the bachelor’s degree program. Bridging courses are available to make things a little easier for you.
Obtain Your Licensure
There is no licensure specific to being a pediatric nurse practitioner but many employers do prefer if you are certified. The American Nurses Credential Center offers a PNP-BC (pediatric nurse practitioner-board certified) credential which you will be able to earn if you are in a position where certification will help you to get employment. In general it is recommended that you are certified. The test that you need to take to earn this certification is computer based, so a basic knowledge of computers will be very helpful. Once you receive your certification you will need to ensure that it is renewed once every five years so that you can continue practicing as a certified pediatric nurse practitioner at the institute where you are employed as a PNP.
Online/Distance Education Programs
It is possible to become a pediatric nurse practitioner online:
- Firstly you need to find a school. Contact all of the brick and mortar schools in your area and ask them if they have any online education options for nurses wishing to specialize in pediatric nursing. It is better to attend a program within your own area as there tend to be differing standards for certification from state to state.
- Enquire as to the nature of the program. Many online programs still require you to attend campus based lessons every once in a while.
- Enquire as to the clinical experience provided. In order to become a pediatric nurse practitioner you have to do a certain amount of clinical practice. The best online schools are the ones that have a contract with a health care facility at which its students can get the necessary hands-on experience.
Becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner is one of the best careers that you can become involved in because it is part of the health care industry. This means that, unlike many other industries and career choices, this one is always expanding regardless of the economic climate. This is true for all aspects of the health care industry. The nursing industry itself is expected to grow faster than average at a rate of 22% from 2008-2018, meaning that if you choose a job in this specialty you will be guaranteed of job security at all times. Remember, too, that as you are required t engage in basic undergraduate training before specializing you will also be qualified to work as a nurse in any health care setting where a specialty is not required. The career options are many and varied.
As a pediatric nurse practitioner you can expect to earn a salary of between $60,732 and $93,864. If you consider the possible bonus that you could receive annually of between $0.00 and $7,071, as well as the potential profit sharing figures of $511 to $19,574 your overall pay could be anything from $63,094 to $101,571 a year as a pediatric nurse practitioner. The amount you earn depends to a certain degree on the industry that you choose to work in. here are some of the popular industries for PNPs with their related salaries:
- Healthcare = $58,335 – $93,790 a year
- Pediatric Office = $58,774 – $93,659 a year
- Hospital = $59,410 – $95,752 a year
- Medical Office = $57,243 – $92,827 a year
- Medical Services = $58,081 – $94,998 a year
As nurse specialties go, becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner is one of the better options. This is because you will still be performing a number of the duties and tasks that a normal RN would perform, just with children. What this means is that you will always be employable in any setting where a registered nurse can work, as well as having the added advantage of being able to find jobs in the specialized setting of child and infant care. There are many nursing specialties to choose from and the matter requires close consideration before any final decisions are made.