According to the International Council of Nurses, a nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse who has acquired a higher level of education, decision-making skills and clinical competencies beyond a generalist registered nurse. Pediatric nurse practitioners are more specialized and provide child care, from infancy to adolescence.
Pediatric nurse practitioner jobs are often physically and emotionally demanding positions and require long hours while on their feet. 😀
However, pediatric nurse practitioners work in a constantly changing environment with excellent job security and pay.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Job Requirements
Although different states have specific credentialing processes, there are a few standard requirements.
Pediatric nurse practitioners require a master’s degree, usually in nursing with a pediatric care specialization. Also, they must pass the national NCLEX-RN exam which will provide licensure by state.
Also, they must pass the national pediatric nurse practitioner certification exam and some states have additional certification requirements.
In addition to the required education, licensure and certifications there are several core competencies and computer and technical skills that should be possessed by a pediatric nurse practitioner. 😉
The basic core competencies that successful nurse practitioners possess include attention to detail, critical thinking, decision making, empathy, interpersonal communication and patience. 😀
From a computer standpoint, pediatric nurse practitioners should be familiar with industry-standard medical software like Medscribbler Enterprise and eClinical Works as well as basic Microsoft Office programs like Excel and Word.
Technical tools that should be mastered include a variety of medical devices and tools such as EKG machines, eye charts, laboratory tests, suction equipment and X-rays.
Learning and mastering these computer and technical skills will occur during the education process while more specific software and device training will occur on the job with proprietary systems.
Steps to find Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Jobs
There are seven primary steps to become a pediatric nurse practitioner which include the following.
- Step One: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Aspiring nurse practitioners must first earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
The coursework will cover the standard principles of anatomy, biology, chemistry, nursing, nutrition and psychology. In many instances, rotations through a variety of clinical settings, like pediatrics, are a requirement.
Those who have an associate’s degree in nursing or a bachelor’s degree in another area of study must take additional coursework to earn a BSN prior to applying to the nurse practitioner program.
- Step Two: Obtain a Registered Nurse License
Once the BSN degree is acquired, all RN’s must pass the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) exam.
Some states may have additional requirements so it is important to contact the board of nursing that state to learn more about the process.
- Step Three: Gain Experience
Prior to applying to the nurse practitioner program, most require at least one year of professional experience.
During this time, it is important to gain valuable experience and make professional contacts for letters of recommendation for the admissions process.
Also, gaining practical experience can help nurses determine if they wish to specialize in a specific area of pediatric nursing such as acute care or oncology.
- Step Four: Earn a Master’s Degree
Once accepted into a pediatric nurse practitioner program, the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) coursework must be completed.
During that time, specializations can be selected which include pediatric acute care, chronic care, critical care, oncology and many other areas of study.
The basic coursework includes, adolescent assessment, advanced pediatric, disease prevention, human development, nursing informatics, pathophysiology, pharmacology, research and practice, theory and wellness promotion.
During the master’s degree program, nurses are required to complete pediatric clinical work which teaches how to manage the most common short-term and long-term health issues as well as working with young families, adolescents and a variety of other demographics.
This program typically takes 1-2 years to graduate. Many schools offer a BSN-MSN combined program which takes 3-4 years to complete all requirements.
Additionally, many schools offer pediatric programs for those who wish to change their specialization to pediatrics. The coursework includes a focus on pediatrics and typically takes around one-year to complete. 😀
During this time, it is beneficial to learn a second language so care can be provided to patients who speak other languages.
- Step Five: Acquire Certification and Licensure
Once the master’s degree is obtained, pediatric nurse practitioners must become certified in that specialization.
The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) gives the Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care (CPNP-PC) designation.
The ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center) awards the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (PNP-BC) credential.
To apply for either certification, applicants must possess graduate degrees in the pediatric nurse practitioner field, hold an RN license and pass all certification exams.
The PCNB also provides certifications in specialty areas such as, Acute Care CPNP and Pediatric Care Primary Mental Health Specialist.
- Step Six: Finding a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Position
After earning the nurse practitioner certification, licensure and any other requirement by the state, nurses are able to search for positions within children’s clinics, community health organizations, hospitals and private practices.
The best places to search for jobs are online websites, through networking contacts and by simply going to a hospital to submit a resume.
There are numerous resources available to assist with the job search.
- Step Seven: Maintain Credentials
Once a position is found, it is critical to remain recent on all credentials. The RN license and specialty certification must be maintained to continue practicing.
Although license renewal has different requirements per state, continuing education courses are a common requirement.
However, it most instances, the nurse practitioner may only need to complete 30 hours work of education every 2 years.
This is to ensure all skills are kept up-to-date and new requirements can be fulfilled.
The CPNP-PC renewal requirement period is every seven years with 15 hours of continuing education each year.
The PNP-BC certification requires a five year renewal period.
In order to renew, proof of continuing education, service work, professional presentations and at least 1,000 hours of employment must be fulfilled.
Becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner requires a large amount of patience, education and certifications.
However, the pay is excellent and the job stability is secure and pediatric nurse practitioners are in constant demand. Start with the bachelor’s degree and determine if a master’s degree is the next best step. 😉