11 Best Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) Programs in 2023

Discover the best pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) programs available in 2023. Learn more about the job description, salary expectations, and steps to become one. Articles Programs

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Choosing the right pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) program can be challenging, given the number of excellent schools across the United States.

To help you navigate this crucial decision, we've compiled a list of the top PNP programs available in 2023, along with information on the job description, salary expectations, and steps to becoming one.

Best PNP Programs

The following schools have been selected based on allnurses' methodology of surveying our readers to understand what they value most while selecting schools, with the addition of graduation rates, student-faculty ratio, price, mode, duration, and admission rates of hundreds of the most prominent nursing schools in the United States.

1. Duke University

Duke University's Pediatric Primary Care NP MSN is designed to prepare pediatric nurses to provide comprehensive primary health care to children of all ages. The program emphasizes one-on-one clinical practice experience in a variety of settings, including pediatric primary care clinics, pediatric community practices, school-based health clinics, health departments, and hospital ambulatory settings.

2. University of Washington

The University of Washington offers a Pediatric NP DNP program that prepares students to provide comprehensive care to children and adolescents in various settings. The program emphasizes evidence-based practice and interprofessional collaboration to manage children's, and their families' health and illness needs.

3. University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania's School of Nursing offers a Pediatric Primary Care NP Program, preparing graduates to provide comprehensive primary care services to children from infancy through adolescence. The curriculum includes a strong foundation in health promotion and disease prevention, management of common pediatric illnesses, and leadership skills.

4. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University offers a Pediatric Primary Care NP DNP program emphasizing health promotion, disease prevention, and management of common pediatric health problems.

5. University of Iowa

The University of Iowa offers Pediatric NP - Primary Care (PNP-PC) and Acute Care programs. These programs prepare students to care for children from birth through young adulthood. 

6. Rush University

Rush University offers a Pediatric NP - Primary Care (PNP-PC) program. The curriculum includes coursework in advanced health assessment, pediatric pharmacology, and pediatric primary care.

7. Yale

Yale University offers Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Primary Care (PNP-PC) and Acute Care programs. They are post-master options for master's or doctorally-prepared APRNs who desire additional education and training.

8. Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University offers a Pediatric NP - Primary Care (PNP-PC) MSN program. Their curriculum uses traditional classroom settings, simulated experiences, and clinical training to help students develop deep pediatric primary care knowledge and clinical reasoning.

9. University of California San Francisco

The University of California San Francisco offers a Pediatric NP Program emphasizing evidence-based practice and interprofessional collaboration to manage children's and their families health and illness needs. 

10. Columbia University

Columbia University's DNP PNP program prepares nurses to practice delivering primary health care to infants, children, and adolescents. Upon graduation, students can exercise sophisticated clinical judgment based on advanced theoretical and scientific knowledge.

11. Maryville University

Maryville University offers an accelerated BSN to DNP program with a focus on Pediatric Primary Care NP, preparing graduates to care for children from birth to young adulthood and deliver highly skilled care and access to education.

PNP Job Description

By working collaboratively with families and a team of healthcare professionals, a PNP provides specialized care and support to children from infancy through adolescence in various settings, such as hospitals, hospices, and pediatric offices or clinics. 

The scope of practice for PNPs can involve performing physical assessments, gathering medical history from the family, ordering lab and diagnostic tests, interpreting results and diagnosing, using specialized monitoring technology, prescribing medications, and administering interventions.

Related: Best MSN Programs in 2023

They may do so with the direction of a pediatrician, and their scopes can vary depending on where they work and organizational policies. For example, in some states, PNPs can function without a physician's oversight, enabling them to serve their patients as a primary care provider and run their own practice.

Although it can be taxing when faced with difficult situations and ill children, a career as a PNP can be gratifying as you can work autonomously to provide care and promote health while building ongoing relationships with children and their families. This role requires good listening skills and empathy to children, patience, and flexibility, critical thinking skills to problem solve, and a passion for pediatric care. 

PNP Responsibilities

The responsibilities of a PNP can vary depending on the setting and the specific needs of the patients, but generally, they perform the following tasks:

  • Assessments through physical examinations and medical histories of children and their families. PNPs may also perform developmental and growth assessments and screenings.
  • PNPs can diagnose common illnesses, such as infections or injuries, and prescribe appropriate treatments, including medications. Providing health education and guidance on health management is also their responsibility.
  • Order and interpret laboratory tests, X-rays, and other diagnostic procedures to aid in diagnosing and managing pediatric conditions.
  • Provide vaccinations according to the recommended immunization schedules for children and educate patients and their families about the importance of vaccinations.in preventative care.
  • PNPs are vital in educating patients and their families about various health topics, including growth and development, nutrition, safety, and disease prevention. They can advocate to ensure the patient and families get what they need.
  • Collaborate with healthcare professionals to coordinate care and ensure the best outcomes for their patients. They may consult specialists and refer patients when needed.

PNP Salary Expectations

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for NPs, including PNPs, was $124,680 in May 2022. However, it's important to note that this figure is an average and may not reflect the exact salary for a PNP in a specific area.

PNPs may also receive additional benefits such as health insurance, bonuses, incentive payments, retirement plans, and paid time off. Some employers may offer differential pay for night shifts, weekends, or holidays. Private practices or academic institutions may offer different salary structures than hospitals or medical centers. 

It is worth mentioning that salary ranges can change over time due to inflation, demand for PNPs, and changes in healthcare policies. Therefore, researching the specific salary ranges and job opportunities in your desired location and consulting reliable sources such as recent job market reports, and professional organizations for the most up-to-date information is recommended.

How to Become a PNP

To become a PNP in the United States, you typically need to follow these general steps:

  1. Start by completing a Bachelor's degree program in nursing from an accredited institution. This program typically takes around four years to complete and provides the foundational knowledge and skills needed for nursing practice.
  2. Upon completing the Bachelor's degree, write and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become a licensed registered nurse (RN). This exam is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and ensures that you have the necessary competence to practice as an entry-level nurse.
  3. Acquire experience as an RN in a pediatric setting or a related area. This experience is valuable as it provides you with exposure to the pediatric population and helps you develop the necessary clinical skills and knowledge.
  4. To become a PNP, you must complete an advanced nursing degree specializing in pediatric primary or acute care. There are Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs available, and the choice between them depends on your career goals and aspirations. Decide whether you want to specialize in primary care or acute care. Primary care PNPs focus on providing preventive care, managing chronic conditions, and promoting overall health in pediatric patients. Acute care PNPs specialize in managing acute and critical illnesses or injuries in children. Enroll in an accredited PNP program that aligns with your chosen specialization. These programs offer specialized coursework and clinical experiences to develop the knowledge and skills specific to pediatric care. The duration of these programs can vary but typically range from 1 to 3 years.
  5. After completing your PNP program, you can seek certification in your chosen specialization. Certification is typically granted by professional nursing organizations such as the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The certification requirements usually include passing a certification exam.
  6. Once you have completed your education and obtained national certification, you must apply for APRN licensure in the state where you plan to practice as a PNP. Each state has requirements, so research and fulfill the specific licensing criteria.
  7. Once you have obtained your APRN licensure, you can begin practicing as a PNP. Continually engage in professional development activities, pursue advanced certifications, and stay updated with the latest research to enhance your practice. You can join the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) state chapter and the Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners to stay involved in evidence-based practices, research, and education.

Although it is a journey to acquire the qualifications necessary to practice as a PNP, working as an independent PNP can be incredibly rewarding and impactful once you've accomplished these steps. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between a Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PPCNP) and a Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PACNP)?

PPCNPs focus on providing long-term, comprehensive care in the primary care setting, managing both common and complex health problems in children from birth to young adulthood. PACNPs, on the other hand, provide care for patients from birth to young adulthood with acute, critical, and chronic illnesses in inpatient and outpatient settings.

Q: What skills are important for a PNP?

In addition to clinical skills, PNPs need excellent communication skills to interact effectively with children and their families. They must also be compassionate, patient, and able to handle stressful situations. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are crucial for making decisions about patients' care. Lastly, leadership skills are important as PNPs often work in leadership roles and must coordinate with other healthcare professionals.


Nurse Nhi has 9 years experience and specializes in Mental Health and Wellness.

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