Becoming a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Career Plan

It is possible to take on many of the traditional duties of a pediatrician without going to medical school. You’ll need to become a registered nurse and then complete additional training at the graduate level before pursuing licensing as an advanced practitioner. This article breaks down the steps.

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Step 1: Get a solid academic foundation in high school. Make sure you’re prepared for college level math and science courses – scoring well in classes like anatomy, chemistry, and biology can help you earn a spot in a competitive RN program. Also work on oral and written communication skills.

Step 2: Meanwhile, seek out real world experience. Look into high school nursing camps. These may be offered by local universities or hospitals. Some prestigious camps cost money, but many day camps are absolutely free. You can also volunteer at local hospitals; some large facilities have volunteer coordinators that work specifically with young people.

You may also want to become a member of the Health Occupations Students Association or other pre-health club. HOSA students learn public speaking and compete in health-related competitions. You can opt for the clinical nursing and clinical specialties competitions.

Step 3: Research accredited RN programs. You will probably want to select one at the baccalaureate level – this will bring graduate school, and advanced practice, one step closer.

Step 4: Fulfill admission requirements. Nursing school admission is generally a separate step from university admission, and may involve submitting test scores, references, and an application essay. You may also need to complete science prerequisites before formal admission.

Step 5: Begin making professional contacts early. You can become a member of the American Student Nurses Association.
As a registered nursing student, you will do rotations in all major areas of nursing, including pediatrics. Remember that the people you work under as an intern may become a source of job leads.

Step 6: Fulfill RN licensing requirements and take a job as a pediatric nurse. Pursue credentialing as a Certified Pediatric Nurse after you have had some experience in the field.

Step 7: Meanwhile research pediatric nurse practitioner programs. Many AACN-accredited programs are transitioning to the doctorate level. You can attend school online while continuing to work as an RN. You will need to do 500 – 1,000 hours of practice en route to your degree.

Step 8: Look for positions as a pediatric nurse practitioner. You may use career resources from the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.

Personality Traits: Pediatric nurse practitioners have analytical minds and empathic natures. They communicate well with both adults and children.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Certification and Licensing

You will earn two licenses on your way to becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner. The first is RN licensing. Different states have slightly different regulations, and so you will want to visit the site of your own state board. The basics, though, are the same across borders. You will need to complete an acceptable educational program; this means one that is approved by the state board and/or accredited by the NLNAC or the accrediting commission of the AACN. After completing program requirements, you will take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Your RN license qualifies you to work as a registered nurse with any population – it’s not specific to the pediatric population. At the RN level, certification is a separate process from licensing. It’s not a mandate for practice, but it is a testament to advanced skills in working with particular populations. There are certification exams for nurses in virtually every branch of nursing.

In order to be licensed as an advanced practice nurse, you will need to complete another educational program at the graduate level. This time the focus will be specifically on pediatrics (though you will also do more general classes like Nursing Research and Transition to Practice). You will take a certifying exam, generally through either the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. States typically require candidates to have a couple years’ experience as RNs before going on to advanced practice. Again, you’ll want to check with your state board.

Learn more by reading the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Career Profile. Also, be sure to explore accredited pediatric nurse practitioner programs.