Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Last Modified: Jan 15, 2022
Choosing a career can be tough, no matter whether you’re still in high school or have been working for a number of years and are thinking about making a job change. While some people know what they want to do from a young age, for others figuring out your path is a process of trial and error.
A common situation to find yourself in is knowing what sort of job you want, but not the specific role itself. For example, you might know that you want to work with animals or in a role that involves travel. Alternatively, you may be looking for a position working with children. If that sounds like you, there are lots of roles you can aim for – from a teacher to a nursery assistant. A great choice for those who want to focus on children’s healthcare is to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. Read on to get all the details!
The role of a pediatric nurse practitioner
A pediatric nurse practitioner is an advanced nursing role in which you specialize in treating children of all ages. This could be in a variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, clinics, and physicians’ offices. It’s an important job because children have different healthcare needs to adults, suffer from different medical conditions, and also react differently to illnesses and medications.
The precise duties you have as a pediatric nurse practitioner will depend on where you are employed, but you can anticipate having at least some of the following responsibilities:
Conducting physical examinations and routine checkups
Administering medication (such as vaccines)
Ordering and conducting diagnostic tests
Drawing blood and handling other medical procedures
Formulating treatment plans
Educating older kids and parents about relevant healthcare issues
Providing emotional support to families
Working with other medical professionals as part of a wider healthcare team
Connecting patients to other specialists where necessary
How to become a pediatric nurse practitioner
Due to the fact that a pediatric nurse practitioner is a high-level nursing role, it requires you to complete graduate-level education in the field. To begin with, you’ll need to study for a bachelor of science in nursing degree (BSN) and get licensed as a registered nurse (RN). It can be helpful to choose modules related to pediatrics even at this early stage and get some work experience in a relevant healthcare setting.
The next step will be to apply for either a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice degree (DNP). Either way, it’s best to choose a program with a relevant focus, such as the acute care pediatric nurse practitioner program by Baylor University. This will teach you all the knowledge and clinical skills that you’ll need to get your pediatric primary care nurse practitioner board certification after graduating.
In addition to picking a program that specializes in pediatric nursing, you should think about whether you want to study full-time or part-time, online or in person. Whichever mode of study you opt for, you’ll normally be required to submit evidence of your existing qualifications plus two or three letters of recommendation along with your application form. Many colleges also ask for a written personal statement about why you want to enroll in the course. This is a key part of the process, so take your time and let your passion for pediatric nursing shine through!
Skills and characteristics of an excellent pediatric nurse practitioner
While your MSN or DNP degree program will cover all the subject-specific knowledge and clinical skills you need to be an effective pediatric nurse practitioner, this alone is not enough. There are also a number of personality traits and transferable skills you’ll require in order to truly excel in the role. Many of these are the same as in any nursing job, for example:
A commitment to personal development and lifelong learning
There are also some characteristics that are especially important for working with children. One of the most notable is communication because young people can’t always explain what’s wrong with them or how they feel as articulately as adults can. Furthermore, you’ll need to be able to reassure frightened patients and have the ability to make intimidating medical procedures such as injections seem less scary.
Patience is another key trait you’ll need because those in your care might not always be cooperative. Likewise, creativity will be a great asset in enabling you to try different tactics for working successfully with young children. Lastly, you will, of course, need to genuinely enjoy working with kids!
Advantages of the role
There are many advantages to be gained by working as a pediatric nurse practitioner. Firstly, it’s a way to dedicate yourself to helping some of the most vulnerable people in society in their time of need. This makes it an extremely rewarding and fulfilling job to choose. In addition to this, it’s a very varied role, meaning every day brings something new.
Pediatric nurse practitioners tend to work with the same patients from infancy all the way through to adolescence, which means you have the chance to build meaningful relationships with both them and their families. This brings the additional advantage of enabling you to influence their lifestyle habits from a young age, helping them on their way to becoming healthy adults.
A consequence of this is that you can not only improve those individual people’s lives but also help to lower the levels of certain harmful medical conditions in society. For instance, by encouraging your patients to take regular exercise and eat a balanced diet, you could bring down rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diseases. Likewise, you can discourage teenagers from taking up smoking or drinking alcohol – issues they might not be comfortable talking to their parents about.
Lastly, nurses of all kinds are always in high demand, but this is especially true for nurses who have specialist qualifications like the DNP. As such, this job role can bring you high levels of employability, job security, and financial stability. It’s also a position that gives you a greater amount of autonomy and responsibility in the workplace, which in turn raises your feelings of job satisfaction even further. So, what are you waiting for? Get your college or job application started today and begin an exciting new chapter in your nursing career!