If you're interested in playing a vital role in promoting the health and well-being of infants, children, and adolescents, consider becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP). Whether you're a nursing student or a healthcare professional interested in furthering your career, read more to learn about the job description, responsibilities, salary expectations, and steps to becoming a PNP.
PNP Job Description
PNPs work collaboratively with healthcare teams to promote the health and well-being of infants, children, and adolescents. There are many fields within the pediatric realm of practice, such as acute, oncology, and primary care.
Acute PNP: Generally involves the diagnosis, treatment, and management of sudden and time-sensitive illnesses or injuries in children, ranging from common acute illnesses to more severe conditions that require immediate attention
Oncology PNP: Focuses on the care of children and adolescents with cancer or hematological disorders.
Primary PNP: Provides routine preventive care, manages common illnesses and chronic conditions, and promotes overall health and well-being in the pediatric population.
Other fields within the realm of pediatrics include nephrology, allergy and immunology, endocrinology, neurology, pulmonology, and more.
PNPs can work in various settings, including:
- Medical office
- Neonatal Intensive Care
- Pediatric Intensive Care
- Surgical Outpatient Services
- Community Health Clinic
Telehealth is another option that may be incorporated into outpatient settings, allowing for the patient and family to receive medical care without the hassle of traveling. Telehealth also benefits families living in rural areas without abundant healthcare facilities.
PNPs have a wide assortment of responsibilities including:
- Pediatric Assessments: Conduct comprehensive physical examinations, developmental assessments, and health screenings to evaluate the overall health and growth of pediatric patients.
- Diagnosing and Treating Illnesses: Diagnose and treat common acute and chronic illnesses in pediatric patients. This includes prescribing appropriate medications, therapies, and treatments.
- Preventive Care and Health Promotion: Such as immunizations, regular check-ups, and health education to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent illnesses.
- Managing Chronic Conditions: Monitor and manage chronic health conditions in pediatric patients, collaborating with other healthcare professionals to develop and implement comprehensive care plans.
- Patient Education and Counseling: Educate patients and their families about various health conditions, treatment options, and strategies for maintaining optimal health. Provide counseling on topics like nutrition, development, and behavior.
- Collaborative Care: Work closely with physicians, nurses, specialists, and other healthcare professionals to coordinate care, ensure effective communication, and provide holistic care for pediatric patients.
- Family Involvement: Engage and involve families in the care and decision-making process, ensuring their understanding of treatment plans, medications, and potential side effects.
- Research and Evidence-Based Practice: Stay up-to-date with the latest research, guidelines, and advancements in pediatric healthcare. Apply evidence-based practice to deliver high-quality and patient-centered care.
- Advocacy: Serve as an advocate for pediatric patients, promoting their rights and needs in healthcare settings. Advocate for improved healthcare policies and practices that benefit pediatric populations.
The demand for PNPs is significant, and the prediction of fewer physicians will add to the urgent need. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that NPs will see the most occupation growth over the next decade, stating an expectation of 46% from 2021 to 2031.
BLS doesn't specify the PNP specialty but does provide NP salary information, which varies depending on which state you reside in. The mean annual wage is reported to be $124,680, as of 2022.
Highest Paying States:
- California: $158,130
- New Jersey: $143,250
- Massachusetts: $138,700
How to Become a PNP
The first step to becoming a PNP is graduating from an accredited nursing school and acquiring an RN license. Depending on the level of education, obtaining a graduate degree may take 2 to 4 years, known as an advanced practice degree, which can be a master's (MSN) or a doctoral (DNP).
Many PNP programs require a certain amount of time for the nurse to work in pediatrics before they can begin their program. However, others allow the student to work in pediatrics while attending school. Either way builds the student's knowledge in pediatric care and fine-tune critical thinking skills.
The accrediting board for PNP is through the American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) and The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB). Each has specific requirements and renewal periods.
One can get additional certifications for post-graduate degrees, such as Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (PPCNP-BC) or Post Master Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Certification. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is a good resource and guide to see what is available and where it's offered.