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How To Become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

How To Become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric nurse practitioners are registered nurses (RNs) who have completed graduate training and can provide primary care to children under the supervision of a physician. They treat children from infancy through adolescence, administering preventative and curative treatments. This position is both physically and emotionally demanding and requires long hours spent on your feet. The schedule of these workers can vary greatly, but the opportunity to work standard business hours is available. Some nurses may travel to patients.

Job Requirements

A master's degree, RN license, and pediatric nurse practitioner certification are the minimum requirements, though states define the specific roles and credentialing processes for nurse practitioners. The following table shows the common requirements to become a pediatric nurse practitioner.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing

An aspiring pediatric nurse practitioner must first earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Coursework includes basic nursing principles, biology, nutrition, chemistry, anatomy, and psychology. Rotations through various clinical settings and departments, including pediatrics, are required. If someone has earned a diploma or an associate's degree in nursing, or even a bachelor's degree in another field, additional coursework is typically needed to earn the equivalent of a BSN before one can apply to a nurse practitioner program.

Step 2: Obtain a Registered Nurse License

All RNs are required to obtain nursing licenses by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Plus, nurse practitioner master's degree programs require applicants to have currently valid RN licenses. States may have additional licensing requirements. Individual states' boards of nursing can supply relevant licensing information.

Step 3: Work as a Registered Nurse in Pediatrics

Pediatric nurse practitioner programs often require applicants to have at least 1 year of professional nursing experience in pediatrics. Attaining work experience and making professional contacts is also important because letters of recommendation from professional employers factor into the admissions process. Getting practical experience in pediatrics can also help nurses decide if they'd like to specialize in an area of pediatric nursing, like acute care or oncology.

Step 4: Earn a Master's Degree in Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

One must complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program that offers a specialization in pediatric care. More specific concentrations may be available, in pediatric acute care, pediatric chronic care, pediatric oncology or pediatric critical care. Coursework covers theory, research, and practice; some topics of study include advanced pediatric and adolescent assessment, pharmacology, pathophysiology, human development, disease prevention, wellness promotion, and nursing informatics. Pediatric clinical work teaches nurses how to manage common health issues and long-lasting illnesses as well as how to work with different populations, like young families and adolescents. It usually takes 1-2 years to complete program requirements.
Some schools provide combined BSN-MSN programs, which usually take 3-4 years to complete. There are also programs for students who already have advanced practice nursing master's degrees and want to change their specialization to pediatrics; these may take 1 year to finish.

Step 5: Earn Certification and Licensure

All pediatric nurse practitioners must become certified in the specialty in order to practice. The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) offers the Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care (CPNP-PC) designation, and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (PNP-BC) credential. Candidates for both certifications must have graduate degrees in pediatric nurse practitioners, be licensed RNs and pass the corresponding certification exams. The PNCB also offers specialty certifications in areas like Acute Care CPNP and Pediatric Care Primary Mental Health Specialist. States may have additional, specific regulations regarding certification, registration or licensure of nurse practitioners.

Step 6: Work as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

After earning nurse practitioner certification and, if required by their states, nurse practitioner licensure, individuals can seek positions within pediatric departments of hospitals, community health organizations or children's clinics. Most employers require a minimum of 2 years of experience working in pediatrics and may require multiple certifications.

Step 7: Maintain Professional Credentials

Both the RN license and specialty certification need to be maintained in order to continue practicing as a pediatric nurse practitioner. License renewal varies by state, but taking continuing education courses is a typical requirement; for example, one may need to complete 30 hours every 2 years.
The CPNP-PC credential is renewed in a 7-year cycle, and at least 15 hours of continuing education must be completed each year. The PNP-BC must be renewed every 5 years. Professional development activities, in areas like continuing education, professional presentations or service work, and at least 1,000 professional employment or volunteer hours, are required.


How To Become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner How To Become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Reviewed by swapee dee on February 23, 2020 Rating: 5
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