The Role of Pediatrics Nurse Practitioners in Healthcare at a Glance

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Written By Charlotte Miller

Pediatric nurses are healthcare professionals specialized in caring for newborns and young children. They aim to use their practical and communicative skills to help children, from birth to early teens—often later teens as well, depending on the region and patient preferences. 

Pediatric nurses are highly essential to healthcare, with the role being extremely delicate given the care, compassion and patience required to handle children—often considered beyond a normal RNs scope.

Pediatric nurse practitioners cater to children’s physical health while also striving to connect to children on their mental level. This article aims to sum up some of the tasks a pediatric nurse practitioner has to perform and also provides a general layout of their contribution to the healthcare industry. 

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What is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner? 

A pediatric nurse practitioner is an advanced practice-level nurse specializing in caring for children. They use their clinical knowledge and nursing skills to improve children’s health problems and address their clinical needs. 

Compared to a nurse practitioner for adults, a pediatric nurse’s approach to patients is very different. They are required to adopt a friendly and loving attitude to establish a solid level of trust with their patients and their families. Moreover, they must also remember to demonstrate professionalism to provide top-level healthcare for their patients and their parents or accompanying guardians. 

Educational Requirements 

To become a licensed pediatric nurse, nursing students (holding a bachelor’s in nursing) need to obtain an MSN. An MSN is a Master’s of Science in Nursing and propels you to specialization. If you’re an undergrad nursing student looking to pursue a master’s degree, it may be worthwhile to check out accredited online MSN programs offered by Pearson. 

An online program is a great alternative to on-campus study as it helps you to manage your time better, especially if you’re working part-time or full-time and want to continue your professional career. Moreover, since this course is accredited, you can rest assured that it meets the academic standards and helps you gain skills applicable in diverse fields of nursing. 

After pursuing an MSN, the graduate must apply for a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with a PNP specialty. 

The DNP course prepares students to deal with clinical scenarios involving children. It also addresses important subjects such as caring for children with special needs and newborn care. Credit hours are also allotted for clinical practice, without which the degree cannot be completed. Clinical experience is essential as it helps students become well versed with medical practices and more familiar with clinical case scenarios.

After attaining their DNP, students must sit for a competitive examination, which, after passing, leads to board certification through the country’s crediting center. After the required qualifications, they may start working (privately or with other specialists) to build their portfolios. 

PNPs are highly in demand, and the job market is highly lucrative too. The average estimated salary for PNPs is $110,400 yearly, as of November 2021.

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Clinical Settings

A PNP can either work independently or with other specialists. Day-to-day duties involve diagnosing diseases, offering checkups, writing prescriptions, and creating treatment plans for both acute and long-term diseases. In addition, you’ll find PNPs working in a variety of clinical settings. 

A few popular ones include private pediatric clinics, hospitals, schools, surgery centers, camps and other work facilities which involve children. 

Everyday Duties of a PNP

Regardless of long-term or short-term medical care, the duties of a PNP can be summed up in a few distinctive points. From the time they enroll in nursing school to the time they graduate, their education is primarily aimed towards improving the health of their patients while keeping their approach child orientated.  

Some jobs include:- 

1- Immunization of children: Vaccinating babies safely against common diseases like polio or measles

2- Children’s health checks: Routine checks of weight, height and vitals like blood pressure and electrolyte levels

3- Physical exams for sports: Some PNPs are required to determine a child’s fitness levels before they can partake in sports

4- Diagnosis of illness: Ordering diagnostic tests and prescribing medication 

5- Medical Procedures: Performing procedures like passing IV drips, administering medicine and caring for wounds (dressing and sanitization)

6-  Informative role: Helping educate both children and families about medical matters 

Skills of a PNP

Pediatric nurses need to acquire particular skills to perform their duties efficiently. First and foremost is empathy, which is the ability to understand a patient and act accordingly with compassion. While all nurses should acquire this skill to excel in their fields, extra levels of empathy are required when working with children. 

Other essential skills include high levels of patience, excellent communication and the ability to adapt and adjust to the scenario. 

How Does a Pediatric Nurse Differ from a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?

While the two sound similar and perform very similar roles, a pediatric nurse holds different roles from a PNP. To begin with, a PN is a registered nurse. Typically, registered nurses are required to do four years of undergraduate study and then pass a licensure exam. They may also obtain specialty certifications from the board of nursing, after which they qualify as a pediatric nurse.

A pediatric nurse practitioner, however, is an APRN or advanced practice registered nurse. This means they hold a master’s degree on top of the undergraduate degree and acquire six to eight years of nurse training. Moreover, a PNPs nurse training is more specific to pediatric care, whereas an RNs training is more generalized. Clearly, this indicates greater expertise and experience as compared to an RN.

Final Thoughts

The role of a pediatric nurse practitioner in healthcare is of great importance. These professionals are required to deal with children’s medical care, making it a sensitive role. PNPs hold numerous responsibilities. Along with managing clinical aspects of care, they’re also required to devote their time reassuring their patients and their guardians. The article sums up some of the critical roles performed by these professionals. 

Since the job of a PNP requires an insane level of compassion at all times, the role can prove strenuous to many. If you’re thinking of pursuing this career, consider the factors discussed above to make an informed decision.