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Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Guide



For nurses looking to advance their careers and work with children, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner is the perfect career for you! Pediatric NPs are advanced practice nurses who primarily work with children from infanthood until they become adults. In that time, they give care, education and counsel to patients and their parents. Depending on where you live, they may even set up independent practices while providing primary care to their patients.


Read on to learn everything you need to know about this exciting profession.


 

Overview


Pediatric Nurse Practitioners provide ongoing care and education to children. They can work with the same patients from infancy until they are old enough to be considered adults. In a one-on-one environment, they can provide a wide breadth of healthcare services such as prescribing important medications, carrying out physical examinations, promoting healthy lifestyle choices and treating illnesses (both acute and chronic.


A Pediatric NP’s independence varies from state-to-state. In 22 States, Pediatric NPs operate independently in their own private practices. Outside those areas, NPs will require physician oversight or collaborating with a team of other pediatricians and healthcare providers. These NPs can also be found in other healthcare settings, such as hospitals, school-based health centers and surgery centers.


Although specific responsibilities will depend on where you work, all Pediatric NPs need to know how to connect with their patients. Since Pediatric NPs are typically the first healthcare providers a child will ever meet, their first impression of you sets expectations for their future interactions with healthcare providers. You want to clearly communicate with your patients and adapt your approach to their individual needs.


 

Tasks and Responsibilities


Pediatric NPs can choose between acute and primary care. Primary care focuses on long term, ongoing medical care for patients who need routine medical attention or management for chronic conditions. Acute care, conversely, has more of a focus on immediate care and treatment for illnesses.


No matter what you choose, a Pediatrica NP offers a holistic form of care to children of all ages. This means that they are entrusted with a wide range of duties, such as diagnosis, treatment, health education, consultation and more.


Some of these tasks include, but are not limited to:


  • Carrying out procedures such as administering IVs, providing important medications and immediate wound care

  • Ordering diagnostic tests, evaluating the results and interpreting their implications

  • Administering immunizations and childhood health checks

  • Carrying out physical examinations for schools, camps, sports teams, etc.

  • Providing care for chronic, acute and common illnesses/conditions.

  • Health screening and evaluating child development

  • Giving prescriptions for medications

  • Educating and counseling patients, and their families and/or caretakers on healthy lifestyle choices, and providing them with added resource material

  • Working together with specialists, physicians and other healthcare professionals


 

Salary


At the time of writing, Indeed lists the median pay for Pediatric NPs at $114,301/yr. The profession is consistently one of the best-paying NP specializations in the healthcare industry. However, salary can be widely variable depending on factors like location and what facility you work for.


Highest Paying States


Currently, the BLS lists the following as the highest paying states for NPs:


  • California: $145,970/yr

  • New Jersey: $130,890/yr

  • Washington: $126,480

  • New York :$126,440

  • Massachusetts: $126,050


Even if the pay is worse, there are still a number of hidden benefits to working outside these areas. In rural communities, Pediatric NPs can sometimes be the only healthcare providers that can be reached. This is all the better if said community is in a state where NPs can operate independently in their own private practices.


 

Benefits


Since Pediatric NPs are both specialized and valuable, facilities will offer a host of professional incentives to retain them. Outstanding NPs can expect to enjoy the following benefits:


  • Retirement plans

  • Health and dental insurance

  • Flexible spending accounts

  • Assistance with site relocation and relocation packages

  • Loan assistance and repayment

  • Overtime pay and shift differentials

  • Tuition Reimbursement programs

  • Paid vacation


 

How to Become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner


Becoming a Pediatric NP takes a lot of time and commitment. However, people who stick to it are rewarded with a professionally and personally rewarding career path. For those of you who are willing to take that next leap, here are the steps you need to take:


Step 1: Become a Registered Nurse


To become an RN, you need to complete an accredited BSN or ADN nursing program and pass the NCLEX-RN. At minimum, this would take 4 years. For ADN Nurses, you either need to complete your BSN or enroll in an accelerated RN to MSN program that lets you earn your BSN and MSN simultaneously.


Completing the BSN program will give you foundational knowledge in key topics like pathophysiology and health assessments. Since postgraduate programs are so competitive, you want to get the best possible grades.


Step 2: Acquire relevant nursing experience in Pediatrics


You can opt to skip this step, but at least 1 to 3 years will help you stand out in a competitive enrollment field.


Step 3: Earn either your MSN or DNP from an accredited nursing program that specializes in pediatrics.


Currently, there are around 100 schools that offer pediatric programs, either acute or primary. Requirements will differ depending on the school, but most universities will ask for the following:


  • Active RN License

  • Minimum 1 year of work experience in a pediatric setting

  • Minimum 2 years of RN experience

  • Good communication skills and references

  • Related BSN degree and a completion of prerequisite courses of chemistry, physiology, human anatomy, microbiology, and statistics

  • Minimum GPA requirement (usually 3.0 in science-related courses)


This will typically take 3 years to finish.


Step 4: Pass the national examination from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board to become a certified nurse practitioner.


 

The certification you aim for depends on your career goals and priorities.


Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care (CPNP-PC) is for Pediatric NPs who want to provide ongoing care from infancy, until they reach the age of 21. Regular tasks include administering immunizations and childhood health checks, handing out prescriptions for medications, and diagnosing and providing care for chronic or acute conditions. These professionals commonly work in non-acute settings, like schools, clinics and long term care facilities.


Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care (CPNP-AC) specializes in short term, immediate treatment to patients that range from infants to adults aged 21. NPs in this field commonly deal with injuries, illness episodes or other issues that require immediate medical attention. You can find Acute Pediatric NPs in emergency rooms, hospitals, surgery rooms and other acute care settings.

 

Best Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs


You want to find the best nursing education possible, given how expensive these programs can be. While there are dozens of worthwhile universities, listed below are some of the best Pediatric NP programs in the nation.


Duke University

University of Pennsylvania

Vanderbilt University

University of Washington

Rush University

John Hopkins University


 

Outlook


The national nursing shortage has increased the demand for Nurse Practitioners. Unlike regular nurses, NPs can act independently and without physician oversight in 22 states. Combined with the shortage of primary care providers across the country (especially in rural areas), it is clear that the demand for NPs will only increase in the future. This is especially true for pediatric NPs, who currently only make up 8% of all nurse practitioners.


As high-quality healthcare providers to 22 percent of the US population, Pediatric NPs will undoubtedly be a highly demanded and respected profession for years to come.


 

Continuing Education


All HCPs have to renew their certifications, and Pediatric NPs are no exception. Renewal is overseen by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, who keep track of your CEU hours with a dashboard. Every year, NPs must complete certain modules and pharmacology requirements on a 7-year basis.


In total, you have to complete 15 contact hours (or a suitable replacement) and a 7-year requirement. The latter includes 15 pediatric pharmacology hours and 4 PNCB modules (2 in primary care, while you can choose the other 2.)


Recertification requires completion of 15 contact hours (or equivalents), and the 7-year requirement includes 15 hours of pediatric pharmacology and 4 required PNCB modules (2 Primary Care, 2 of your choice).


Currently specific requirements vary from state-to-state. California may require 30 Nurse Education hours across two years, while Georgia has no CE requirements whatsoever. Though there have been talks to standardize them across the country, none of this has come to fruition. Further Resources: