What Does a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Do?
Nurse practitioners are a type of advanced practice nurse. They are registered nurses who are also licensed to provide the same type of basic care that physicians provide, such as diagnosing illnesses and conditions, conducting health examinations, and even prescribing medication and therapy treatments. This is unlike lower level nursing where nurses are not allowed to make diagnoses or prescribe treatments without the supervision of a doctor. Those who specialize in pediatrics therefore perform essentially the same duties as a pediatrician. They work with patients from infancy through young adulthood, providing services such as keeping health records, conducting routine check-ups, diagnosing common pediatric illnesses, injuries, chronic conditions, and behavioral problems, and counseling their patients and the patients’ family members. In addition, pediatric nurse practitioners can order laboratory and screening tests, such as x-rays and blood work. These nurses may have their own offices and clinics, though in some states, they are required to work under a licensed physician.
How Can I Become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?
Pediatric nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses. This means that the level of education and training required is more intensive than if one were to pursue a lower-level nursing position. Pediatric nurse practitioners must first earn basic licensure as registered nurses. A bachelor’s degree in nursing is recommended and can be obtained from any approved and accredited nursing program. After completing the program, nurses must sit for the NCLEX-RN examination. Upon successful completion of this exam, nurses will gain their licensure to practice professionally. However, that is not all that pediatric nurse practitioners must do. To join this profession, nurses must go back to school and earn a master’s degree in healthcare to become certified as a nurse practitioner. During this program, nurses can take courses that relate to child health and psychology in order to prepare for work in pediatrics. Organizations like the Society of Pediatric Nurses can provide valuable certification to nurse practitioners looking to specialize in pediatrics.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?
Those looking to join the pediatric nurse practitioner profession have reason to celebrate. Employment opportunities for registered nursing positions in general are prospering. In fact, the occupation is expected to increase 22 percent during the 2008-18 decade, adding approximately 581,500 more jobs into the market, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the single most popular occupation in the health care industry, registered nurses will be experiencing a boost in demand for years to come. Pediatric nurse practitioners will see a similar jump in demand as well. Due to the fact that pediatric nurse practitioners offer largely the same services as pediatricians, and that seeing a nurse practitioner is often more affordable than seeing a pediatrician, these nurses will undoubtedly experience an increase in the number of patients as health care costs continue to climb. In addition to a thriving job climate, pediatric nurse practitioners enjoy great financial rewards. These nurses earn an average of $76,778 annually, according to PayScale Inc. However, this figure can vary depending on the nurse’s level of experience, employer, and geographic location.