Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) at a Glance
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.
You’ll typically work alongside pediatricians in a hospital or outpatient facility, but you could even run your own practice in some states."
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.
- Ambulatory care centersWithin 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.
- HospitalsIn hospitals, PNPs also tend to focus on more acute care specialties, working in nursing units like pediatric or neonatal intensive care.
- Doctors’ officesDoctor’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 centersLong 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.
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.
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!
American Association of Nurse Practitioners
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
The Journal for Nurse Practitioners
Society of Pediatric Nurses
Pediatric Nursing Associations