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Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) at a Glance

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNPs) focus on the care of children from infancy to early adulthood. Because of this, PNPs take on the role of caretaker and educator, ensuring that their patients and their families are fully informed and supported during the many stages that occur throughout young lives. In many states, PNPs can function without a physician’s oversight, allowing them to serve their patients as a primary care provider and run their own practice. If you’re looking for a career in medicine where you not only can diagnose and treat patients independently, but also serve as a trusted ally and educator to them and their families, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner may prove to be a rewarding path.
What is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?
As primary and specialty healthcare providers to children of all ages and backgrounds, Pediatric Nurse Practitioners are skilled and holistic medical professionals who effectively communicate and use their dynamic knowledge to serve their patients and their families.

Whether they function independently or not, PNPs are relied upon to provide consistent and comprehensive care to their patients, ensuring they know about any unique healthcare risks or necessities. Because they’re both educators and providers, PNPs tend to build their patient relationships by creating environments where questions and concerns are genuinely heard and validated. That lets them communicate with patients and their guardians so that they can best prioritize overall health and wellness.

What’s the Demand for Pediatric Nurse Practitioners?

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners are always in demand, especially where there are shortages of primary care physicians. Their ability to function independently, without physician supervision, allows them to work in a variety of healthcare environments, lowering overall healthcare costs by making care accessible for underserved individuals or groups, and boosting the health of their communities.

How Do You Become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?

A Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) is classified as an “advanced-practice” registered nurse, which means that a Master’s Degree in the Science of Nursing (MSN) is required, on top of an undergraduate Associate’s (ADN) or Bachelor’s Degree in the Science of Nursing (BSN). Some people pursuing a career as a PNP go even further, to a doctoral level, especially if they’re looking to be involved in research or health policy surrounding pediatrics.

As with other nursing specialties, those on the PNP track must first work as a registered nurse for at least one year before pursuing a more specialized focus. This experience is especially important in building your clinical abilities, as well as your understanding of how to properly communicate with both minors and their guardians. Since you’ll likely work with a wide range of patients, it’s crucial that you’re able to quickly adapt to each individual’s needs with compassion, clarity and consistency.

For Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNPs), compassion and adaptability are absolutely essential to being an effective and trusted healthcare provider. Not only do your patients need to trust you, but so do their guardians. So your job as PNP is to find out how to best communicate with everyone in your care, prioritize preventive health measures, and enact effective treatment plans when necessary.

How Much Does a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Make?
The average annual salary for Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNPs) tends to fall between $70k-$115k. As with any profession, factors such as years of experience, the kind of employer you work for, and the state and city you work in can have a significant impact on how you are compensated. Additionally, PNPs who function independently have the opportunity to boost their compensation, since they’re self-employed. Of course, regardless of who you’re employed by or where you're working, your success as a PNP is rooted in the trust and quality of care that you provide your patients.

Source: PayScale, Aug 2018

As advanced care providers, Pediatric Nurse Practitioners often function with little or no supervision from physicians, allowing them to establish independent relationships with their patients, and sometimes open their own practices, depending on their state’s regulations. Many PNPs find this especially rewarding, as they can build careers that align with their desires and goals.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioners tend to spend about 16 to 20 minutes with each of their patients. You’ll use that time to get the full picture of why your patient is there, what they need, and what steps need to be taken, all while maintaining a level of personability. Because of the broad range of your patients, it’s important that you’re able to adapt how you communicate with your patients so that you make them as comfortable as possible. Remember, some of your patients may not be able to communicate verbally, so tune into body language as well, and present yourself as a reassuring point of contact.
Juggling a variety of patients every day means that Pediatric Nurse Practitioners need to rely on a structured workflow to help them assess and anticipate their patients’ present and future needs.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioners’ responsibilities range from standard immunizations and preventive care, to diagnosing and treating of chronic illnesses. Besides being experts in technical clinical care, PNPs also serve their patients and patient families as trusted and collaborative partners supporting their wellbeing as a whole.
Mom and daughter take a trip to the doctor's office for an appointment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You’ll typically work alongside pediatricians in a hospital or outpatient facility, but you could even run your own practice in some states."

What does a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner do?

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners provide dynamic comprehensive care, ranging from standard physical exams to specialized diagnosis and treatments. Due to the longevity of their patient relationships, PNPs can care for patients using a deep knowledge of their personal and health history, as well as provide a safe space where patients feel comfortable communicating honestly. As pediatric care comes with a variety of transition periods, PNPs must be attentive and proactive to address any potential health issues as their patients mature.


PNPs collaborate with their patients and their patient’s families to provide the right resources and care. This relationship relies on the trust that you build with each visit, and it’s essential when addressing more serious health concerns. You’ll also connect your patients with providers to help them when more specialized care is necessary.


In addition to standard clinical care, you’ll provide patients and families with emotional support and overarching wellness advice. It’s your responsibility to make your care environment one in which your patients feel comfortable communicating openly and honestly with you so that you can provide them with fully comprehensive care.


As a PNP, you’ll provide thorough and attentive examinations, as these routine check-ups and developmental screenings can be opportunities to identify future health risks.


PNPs are responsible for diagnosing low risk and chronic illnesses, prescribing medications, forming treatment plans or connecting patients with the necessary specialists to do so, and providing further preventive care.


Similar to your responsibilities as medical counsel, it’s your job as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner to ensure that your patients have a comprehensive understanding of their unique health needs or concerns. You’re responsible for educating them about any medications they’re prescribed, any illnesses they may be susceptible to and any precautions they need to take as they mature.

Where Can a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Work?
  • Ambulatory care centers
    Within ambulatory care centers, Primary Nurse Practitioners tend to focus on acute care more than primary care. This means that instead of the more preventive care focus of a primary care provider, acute care PNPs focus on patients with more chronic or debilitating illnesses or disabilities.
  • Hospitals
    In hospitals, PNPs also tend to focus on more acute care specialties, working in nursing units like pediatric or neonatal intensive care.
  • Doctors’ offices
    Doctor’s offices are where PNPs function more as primary care providers. You’ll focus on preventive care, developmental screenings and monitoring, and providing educational resources to patients and their families.
  • Long term care centers
    Long term care centers are for patients who need daily health oversight or assistance. Here, PNPs bring their pediatric expertise to caring for chronically ill or debilitated patients, anywhere from infancy to 21 years of age.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Path

Get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Earning your BSN typically takes four years. As a future PNP, it’s especially helpful if you take pediatric-centered courses during your undergraduate education to better prepare you for your clinical experience and MSN application process.

Pass the NCLEX-RN and work as a Registered Nurse.

As with most nursing specialties, PNPs are required to first earn their licenses as a registered nurse.

Work as a Registered Nurse, gaining experience in Pediatrics.

Once a RN, future PNPs are required to gain at least one year of hands-on clinical experience in pediatrics before applying to any accredited MSN or DNP program.

Get your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

Earning your MSN typically takes four years to complete at a full-time capacity, though some programs offer part-time options for students who require more flexibility in their schedule. During this time, in addition to their academic studies, students earn 500 hours of clinical experience in order to meet the requirements for board certification.

Get your Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Board Certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.

You’re ready to work as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner!

Join an Organization
Become a member of a Pediatric Nurse organization to find career opportunities, learn from your colleagues, and support the profession.

American Association of Nurse Practitioners

National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

The Journal for Nurse Practitioners

Society of Pediatric Nurses

Pediatric Nursing Associations
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