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A Guide to Becoming a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioner was voted one of the best healthcare jobs by US News because it’s a role that comes with a great salary, a good deal of autonomy when it comes to making decisions about patient care, and it allows a good deal more flexibility than a lot of other healthcare roles.

Registered nurses who decide to become nurse practitioners can do so by taking either a Masters (MSN) or Doctorate (DNP) level qualification, which specializes in their chosen branch of medicine, and then applying to their state for licensure once they have enough clinical hours experience. 

It’s possible to specialize in a lot of different areas of medicine, including family, cardiac, oncology, pediatrics, and neonatal, which means that aspiring nurse practitioners have a lot to choose from! In this article, we’re going to discuss the pediatric track, clarifying what the role entails and what the career outlooks are to help you decide whether this is the right track for you.

What is a pediatric nurse practitioner?

A pediatric nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has undertaken graduate-level training, at either masters or doctorate level, specializing in pediatrics. 

Their specialization is in the care of children from infancy up until young adulthood, either working in a primary care setting or providing acute care. Pediatric nurse practitioners can also further specialize in areas like cardiology, neurology, or orthopedics.

Pediatric nurse practitioners providing primary care can work in a variety of settings like hospitals, schools, or community health centers, and their role in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. They can order and interpret tests, prescribe medication, or even refer their patients for further treatment. The nurse practitioner role also has a large educational element, working with children and their families to ensure that they are doing things like eating well and getting enough exercise to help maintain health for the future. 

Pediatric nurse practitioners providing acute care will work in settings like hospitals and critical care facilities and will work as part of a wider team to treat critically ill children. This role involves a lot of quick decision-making and can be highly pressured.

The level of authority that nurse practitioners are afforded over the care of their patients is determined at the state level. In some states, nurse practitioners work almost entirely independently, but they are supervised by a physician in others.

A typical day for a pediatric nurse practitioner

There really is no such thing as a ‘typical day’ for a pediatric nurse practitioner, as the scope of your role will be determined by the institution in which you are working.

A pediatric nurse practitioner working in the ICU, for example, will probably be given their own patient load for the day, which they will be primarily responsible for. They will draw up a care plan and monitor their patients for progress. They will check on them throughout the day and take part in medical rounds to ensure that they are up to date with the findings of the other medical personnel on the team. 

It’s essential to work well as part of a team and gather as much information as possible to ensure that the care plan you devise is accurate and you aren’t missing any crucial information.

As a nurse practitioner, you are highly skilled and experienced, and as such, you will often be called upon to provide training for other medical personnel.

How do you become a pediatric nurse practitioner?

As long as you are a registered nurse with a BSN, you can study to become a pediatric primary care nurse practitioner online.

To become a pediatric nurse practitioner, you will need to be licensed by your state. The licensure requirements differ from state to state, but generally, you will need to obtain a certain number of hours of clinical practice, and you will need to obtain either a masters or a doctorate level qualification in the pediatric nurse practitioner specialization.

Both masters level (MSN) and doctorate level (DNP) qualifications will allow you to practice as a pediatric nurse practitioner, however, the doctorate level qualification gives you an extra grounding in the scientific background of nursing as well as covering things like health policy and leadership. This makes the DNP level qualification a great option if you are looking to move into management or if you want to start your own medical practice in the future.

What type of person makes a good pediatric nurse practitioner?

According to the AANP (American Association of Nurse Practitioners), as well as a desire to work with children, pediatric nurse practitioners must also be comfortable with managing the emotions of their patients’ caregivers. Therefore, you must be someone who is empathetic but who can calmly and clearly communicate – particularly in a crisis.

Working with families is one of the things that nurse practitioners find the most rewarding because you have the opportunity to improve lives not just through the care that you provide but through the education that you offer as part of your work. In addition, you can help people make choices for themselves and their families, leading them towards better health.

Career outlooks

The average salary for a pediatric nurse practitioner in 2021 is $108,400 per year; however, the top 10% of pediatric nurse practitioners earn over $118,716. 

Salary depends on how many years of experience you have and your level of education, and the institution in which you are working in. For example, in some institutions, PNP’s who have a doctorate level qualification will be paid more than PNP’s who have a masters level qualification.

It’s predicted that the demand for nurse practitioners is going to keep increasing over the next few years as the healthcare system begins to place a greater focus on education and preventative care in order to combat issues such as obesity and diabetes, and nurse practitioners are utilized more in primary care roles. As a result, there is expected to be a 45% increase in the number of nurse practitioners employed between 2019 and 2029, which is 117,700 new jobs.


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