What Is A Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?
A pediatric nurse practitioner is a nurse who specifically works with children and adolescents in a number of different health care settings, providing them with care specific to their age group. It is well known that infants, children, and adolescents have different nutritional and medical needs to adults and geriatrics, which is why the need for experts in this area exists.
Nature Of The Work/Duties
The duties of a pediatric nurse practitioner are as follows:
- Pediatric nurse practitioners work alongside pediatricians and other health care professionals to provide adequate care to pediatrics (defined as any individual younger than the age of 18).
- The pediatric nurse practitioner may serve as the child’s primary caregiver in charge of all diagnoses and treatment plans.
- In addition to dealing with ill children, nurses with this qualification also assist the families of patients who are chronically ill or severely injured.
- In cases where a child has lost the physical ability to stand or walk, pediatric nurse practitioners will administer thorough assessments of that child and engage in rehabilitation should it be deemed necessary.
- A pediatric nurse practitioner is also active in providing preventative care information to the parents of the children under her care, as well as providing tips on how parents can care for their ill child in the home environment.
Although a large number of pediatric nurse practitioners work specifically in hospitals or in doctor’s offices, it is possible to have your own practice if you have this qualification. This is one of the primary reasons why this is such a popular career path with many nurses. Naturally the educational requirements that you will have to meet before you will be able to run your own practice are vast, but it will result in having a higher degree of professional prestige and earning more respect from others in the healthcare field.
Employment as a pediatric nurse practitioner suits those nurses who have a special interest in the well being of youngsters and who are willing to engage in the training needed to become certified. As tragedies can happen in a pediatric ward, a strong emotional character will also stand you in good stead.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Requirements
The following are the requirements that you must meet if you want to be a pediatric nurse practitioner:
- To begin with you will need to attend a nursing program that results in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- Once you have your bachelor’s degree you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
- After you have experience as an RN, you will need to go back to school to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
- Take any courses that are offered by your program convener in child health and psychology in order to prepare for work in pediatrics
- Once you have met the educational requirements you will need to earn board certification in pediatrics through the Society of Pediatric Nurses, which will result in you officially becoming a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP)
There are a number of general nursing skills that will stand you in good stead as a pediatric nurse practitioner, but there is one very important skill that is not required in most other nursing specialties. This is the ability to understand the individual psychology of each child and communicate with children at their level. Although this skill can be taught, it will help you considerably if you have a natural ability in this regard. In addition to this specific skill you will also need the personality traits of empathy and understanding, especially as children often need greater reassurance and levels of support than adults do when they are in a hospital or other health care facility. Attention to detail is also extremely important as children will not be able to explain situations or symptoms to you as easily as an adult would, making it your responsibility to infer details through other means.
The educational requirements for this line of work are fairly stringent as you are required to earn a master’s degree. However, this is a cumulative process as an undergraduate degree must be obtained first. Here you have two options:
- You can earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing
- You can earn an associate’s degree in nursing and then complete an associate’s degree to bachelor’s degree bridge program
Your undergraduate training, regardless of the specific route you choose to take, will prepare you for a career as a general nurse. Quality programs include comprehensive classroom training, as well as clinical training regimes. The core topics that you will cover in most programs will be related to community nursing, health assessment, nursing ethics, anatomy and physiology, and complex health problems.
To enter into the master’s degree program that will allow you to become a pediatric nurse practitioner, you must have:
- An RN license
- Experience as an RN (about 1 year)
If you are enrolled in the master’s program full-time, you should be able to complete it in about 2 years. The general and specific courses that you will need to complete during your master’s program include nursing theories, research methods in nursing, advanced practice nursing, pharmacology and pathophysiology, health promotion, disease prevention, health maintenance and pediatric theory. At the end of the course you will be required to submit a thesis.
If you are a student who has a bachelor’s degree in a topic not related to nursing, you may be able to complete an accelerated nursing program to become a registered nurse.
The only license that you need, strictly speaking, is an RN license, which is earned by completing an accredited RN training program. After completing the program you will need to apply for licensure with your State Board of Nursing. Once your eligibility to become licensed is confirmed you will take the NCLEX-RN examination through Pearson VUE, the examining body. This exam is computer based. Passing the exam earns you your RN license, which will need to be renewed periodically according to the rules in your particular state.
How To Become A Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications
The question that occurs to many nurses is why it is necessary to become a pediatric nurse practitioner if you are already a pediatric nurse. The reason for this is related to career advancement and career opportunities. With your advanced degree and certification, you’ll have more responsibility, and higher earning ability, than pediatric nurses.
Once you have earned your qualification as a pediatric nurse practitioner it is very important that you then continue to boost your knowledge by engaging in continuing education related to the field of pediatric nursing. This will not only allow you to improve your efficiency on the job, but it will also make your resume more attractive to any potential employers that you apply with over the course of your career.
Source An Accredited Education Program
It is very important that you source an accredited training program when studying to be a pediatric nurse practitioner. Your state board of nursing can confirm the accreditation status of the school that you choose. http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-health-schools/pediatric-nursing-rankings lists the 18 best schools offering a master’s degree in pediatric nursing:
- University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA
- Yale University in New Haven, CT
- University of Washington in Seattle, WA
- University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA
- Duke University in Durham, NC
- Rush University in Chicago, IL
- University of Colorado-Denver in Denver, CO
- University of California-San Francisco in San Francisco, CA
- Columbia University in New York, NY
- University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, NC
- Emory University in Atlanta, GA
- Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD
- University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in Ann Arbor, MI
- University of Illinois-Chicago in Chicago, IL
- University of Maryland-Baltimore in Baltimore, MD
- Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN
- Ohio State University in Columbus, OH
Earn Your Associate’s Degree
The most basic degree that you can earn is your associate’s degree, which will allow you to become an RN. However, in order to become a pediatric nurse practitioner you will have to complete both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in addition to your associate’s degree.
To earn your associate’s degree apply to at least three different nursing schools offering the qualification in your area. This will greatly improve your chances of being accepted. To choose the best school for you, create a list of all the personal and practical requirements that the school must meet. Enroll in the most appropriate school and complete the course requirements. This will earn you your associate’s degree.
Obtain Your Licensure
In addition to the RN license that you must hold in order to become a pediatric nurse practitioner, you are also required to become certified. The easiest way to do this is through the American Nurses Credential Center which offers a PNP-BC (pediatric nurse practitioner-board certified) credential. In order to earn this credential you will need to take a computer based multiple choice test. Preparation for the test can be completed by buying study guides and textbooks or by using the many online resources that are available. Once you have become certified, you must renew that certification once every five years in order to continue practicing as a pediatric nurse practitioner in your particular state.
Online/Distance Education Programs
There are a number of advantages to studying online:
- The hours are more flexible and you can work according to your own schedule
- It is often cheaper to study online than in a traditional classroom situation
However, as you will always be required to complete a certain amount of clinical training in a nursing degree program, you cannot hope to earn your qualification entirely online. Online and distance education schools are often affiliated with health care facilities where you will be able to complete your clinical training. Others require you to make your own arrangements for achieving the required number of clinical hours. Without hands-on training you will be unable to become a pediatric nurse practitioner.
The job outlook for pediatric nurse practitioners is fairly good as this is a subset of the health care industry which is always on the increase in terms of the number of jobs that become available. In addition to having a specialized qualification, you will also be able to work in facilities that require non-specialized RNs due to your undergraduate training. However, this is a fairly popular line of work, which means that there may, in some cases, be steep competition for finding employment in pediatric nursing.
The overall salary that you can expect to earn as a pediatric nurse practitioner is about $61,676 – $94,383 a year, but if you also consider the potential for an annual bonus of between $0.00 and $7,465 a year, as well as the potential for profit sharing of between $507 and $19,727, your overall earning potential comes to about $63,996 – $102,228 a year. The industry you choose to work in will also affect your pay as a pediatric nurse practitioner. Popular industries are Healthcare where you can expect to earn about $58,819 – $94,359 a year, Pediatric Offices where you can expect to earn about $59,254 – $94,223 a year, Hospitals where you can expect to earn about $59,905 – $96,324, Medical Offices where you can expect to earn about $57,726 – $93,395 a year, and Medical Services where you can expect to earn about $58,571 – $95,578 a year. Some cities pay more than others. The top paying cities are:
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Washington, District of Columbia
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Nashville, Tennessee
- St. Louis, Missouri
- New York, New York
- Indianapolis, Indiana
- Orlando, Florida
- Columbus, Ohio