Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) are advanced practice nurses who provide primary and specialty care to children from infancy through young adulthood. These nurses are crucial members of the healthcare team and generally work alongside pediatricians, although some work independently in their own private practices. As nurses, PNPs tend to take a more holistic approach to medicine than their physician counterparts. While gathering information about a patient's physical symptoms is crucial to providing effective patient care, understanding environmental and psychosocial factors are seen as equally important for PNPs. Although most PNPs work in primary care, many PNPs find themselves working in pediatric subspecialties like neurology, psychiatry/mental health, oncology, cardiology, gastroenterology, infectious disease, and more.
Common duties that pediatric nurse practitioners are tasked with are likely to include:
PNPs find employment wherever children are treated for medical issues, including:
If you're ready and willing to walk the long path toward becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner, you'll need an active RN license and a master's (MSN), post-master's (DNP), or doctoral (Ph.D.) nursing degree which places an emphasis on the pediatric patient population. These can take anywhere from two to four years to complete beyond a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN). After completing your graduate or post-graduate degree program, you can then go on the gain your national PNP certification credential.
To become a pediatric nurse practitioner, the following educational requirements need to be met:
Although classes will vary from program to program, most programs will have courses which cover the following topics:
Yes, in addition to holding an active and unrestricted RN license, PNPs must also hold graduate degrees in nursing which emphasize pediatrics and have at least one of the pediatric nurse practitioner credentials/certifications.
Pediatric nurse practitioner aspirants can become nationally certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. Before seeking certification, candidates should consult with their respective state's Nursing Board to see which certifications their state's Board recognizes and accepts.
The American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers a Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner credential (PPCNP-BC). To be eligible for this certification, individuals will need to have fulfilled the following requirements prior to submitting an application:
The Pediatric Nurse Certification Board offers two separate pediatric nurse practitioner certifications:
*To be eligible for either of these certifications, individuals will need to have completed a BSN program, hold active and unrestricted RN licenses, and have completed a pediatric nurse practitioner program which has been approved by the CCNE or NLNAC.
The Pediatric Nurse Certification Board also offers a Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS). To be eligible for this certification, nurse practitioners will need:
Other certifications that may be helpful:
According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, by the year 2030 there is expected to be a shortage of around 40,800 to 104,900 doctors. To compound the problem, healthcare demands are growing due to the aging population. Nurse practitioners can help offset this shortage.
According to PayScale.com, the average annual salary for PNPs is about $87,855. The city/state of employment, employer, the nurse's education levels, what credentials they hold, and how much experience they have are all key factors that will contribute to how much they can earn. On top of their annual salaries, PNPs can also expect to receive benefits packages which include things like medical insurance coverage, retirement plans, life insurance packages, and paid vacation/sick leave.