Pediatric nurse practitioners have rewarding careers that focus on treating children ranging in age from infancy to young adulthood.
They have several day-to-day responsibilities and many are the same as pediatricians. They include:
- Performing physical examinations
- Diagnosing and treating common childhood illnesses
- Performing health maintenance care including immunizations
- Ordering lab and diagnostic tests
- Interpreting lab and diagnostic tests
- Conducting advanced physical assessments
- Educating and counseling children and their parents on health issues
- Analyzing symptoms of illness and injury
- Prescribing medication
- Noting a patient’s examination results
- Teaching parents how to properly care for their children at home
- Helping patients manage conditions such as asthma, allergies, or diabetes
You’ll first need to become a registered nurse, and this is accomplished by completing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Upon graduation, you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) before you can start work. To have a career as a pediatric nurse practitioner, you’ll need to enroll in a Master’s of Science in Nursing degree program. Not all offer the same courses, but the more common ones are:
- Assessment (developmental, physical, family, environmental, community, and cultural)
- Health Promotion
- Nursing Theory
- Research Methods in Nursing
- Laboratory Skills
- Health Policy
- Child Growth and Development
- Diagnosing and Managing Behavioral Problems and Mental Illness
- Advanced Practice Nursing
Before applying to a program, make sure it offers the track you want. Some offer Primary Care or Acute Care, while others have a dual-track program. Studying a specialty such as Developmental Disabilities and Pulmonary Specialist are also options.
After you earn a master’s, you can elect to obtain a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with a specialty as a pediatric nurse practitioner.
Most pediatric nurse practitioners earn certification after finishing a graduate or post-graduate degree program, as many of the state Boards of Nursing mandate certification as a licensing condition. National Certification is earned through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) administers a primary care certification that gives those who pass, the credential (PNP-BC). Applicants must hold an active RN license in order to take the computer-based exam.
The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PCNB) administers two certifications: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care (CPNP-PC) and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care (CPNP-AC). An active RN license is required before taking either exam.
Before sitting for any of these exams, see which ones your state recognizes. It’s also important to begin studying well before your testing date so you have a better chance of passing on your first attempt.
The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board also administers the Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist certification. It centers on child and adolescent behavioral and mental healthcare. Primary certification must also be maintained to hold this certification.
Pediatric nurse practitioners can opt to work in one of several subspecialties including cardiology, dermatology, infectious disease, gastroenterology, neurology, and orthopedics.
Pediatric nurse practitioners work in several medical settings, though most find employment in healthcare clinics and hospitals. Popular employers include: acute care hospitals, pediatric offices, general hospitals, healthcare facilities, and medical services providers.
Salary and Job Outlook
According to Payscale.com, the average salary for this profession is $79,776. Like other healthcare careers, the number is determined by location, education, experience, specialty, and certification. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nursing careers will grow faster than the average rate of twenty-two percent until 2018.
This is a great career option for anyone who enjoys working with children and would like to work in the healthcare field. To learn more, please contact us.