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Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Career Info and Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Pediatric nurse practitioners coordinate patient care for children. They must earn a master's degree and achieve the necessary licensure. The following outlines the educational requirements and job outlook for a pediatric nurse practitioner.

Essential Information

The primary goal of a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) is to provide nursing care to children, adolescents and infants. A PNP is a registered nurse who has also completed a master's degree program in nursing with a pediatric nurse practitioner focus. Some employers require NP certification.

Required Education Undergraduate degree in nursing; minimum of a master's degree as a nurse practitioner with a pediatric focus
Other Requirements Registered nurse licensure;
Some states require board certification as a nurse practitioner, and certification might be required by employers
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 28% for all nurse practitioners*
Median Salary (2019) $88,233 for pediatric nurse practitioners**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Career Information

A pediatric nurse practitioner works closely with physicians and other health care professionals to care for patients under the age of 18. A PNP might be a patient's main medical caregiver who diagnoses and treats chronic diseases, injuries, illnesses and infections.

Pediatric nurse practitioners also assist the families of chronically ill or sick children. They might perform physical examinations and rehabilitation treatments for kids who have lost some ability to walk or stand, due to an accident or illness. They provide preventative care information for parents and teach them to care for a child at home.

Nursing careers are booming, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS reported that careers for all nurse practitioners are expected to grow faster than average, at a rate of 28% from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). PayScale.com reported in August 2019 that the majority of pediatric nurse practitioners made between $73,169 and $117,647 a year, with a median annual salary of $88,233.

Education Requirements

An advanced degree in nursing is required for pursuing a career as a pediatric nurse practitioner. Before a student enrolls in a master's degree program, completion of an undergraduate degree program in nursing is necessary. While many students complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), other students might choose to complete an associate degree in nursing (ADN) program followed by an ADN-MSN bridge program.

Regardless of undergraduate degree choice, the curriculum prepares students for careers as nurses. Undergraduate degree programs include general education courses and nursing-specific courses and clinicals. The clinical experience places students in a live health care setting, such as a hospital or health clinic. Core nursing classes include topics such as:

  • Community nursing
  • Health assessment
  • Nursing ethics
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Complex health problems

Students from non-nursing backgrounds might be able to enter accelerated degree programs in nursing. An accelerated degree might help a college graduate with a bachelor's in another discipline earn a BSN to become a registered nurse.

All prospective NPs must pass the NCLEX-RN, also known as the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses, to become registered nurses. Certain states also require additional licensing and registration.

Master of Science in Nursing: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Entry into a master's degree program requires applicants to have a nursing license and work experience, usually at least a year as a registered nurse (RN). A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) can be completed in two years, if pursued on a full-time basis. Before a student can choose a pediatric nurse practitioner focus, he or she must first complete core nursing science courses. These courses cover:

  • Nursing theories
  • Research methods in nursing
  • Advanced practice nursing
  • Pharmacology and pathophysiology

Students who choose a pediatric nurse practitioner focus also take courses that stress health promotion, disease prevention, health maintenance and pediatric theory. The final year of enrollment focuses upon the completion of a thesis and a series of clinical experiences.

Certification

Some states, as well as most employers, require that NPs be certified. The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers a PNP-BC (pediatric nurse practitioner - board certified) credential. The credentialing exam is computer-based, and certification must be renewed every five years.

Pediatric nurse practitioners work alongside physicians to care for their patients under the age of 18. They may be the primary caregiver, and they also assist the families of the patients by providing preventative care information and instructions for how to care for the children at home. To become a pediatric nurse practitioner, you must earn a master's degree with a pediatric focus and earn licensure or certification as required.

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