If you're a registered nurse who wants to pursue an advanced practice specialty working with children, becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner, or PNP, is one career path to consider. According to the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, PNPs provide preventative care, diagnostic services, developmental screenings and illness-focused therapies to both well and sick children. PNPs must complete an educational program in this specialty area.
Although RNs can practice with an associate or bachelor's degree, a PNP is considered an advanced practice specialty that requires graduate-level study. Whether you go to nursing school in New York, California or any other state, you'll find that all PNP programs are either master's or doctoral level. For example, the University of Texas, Arlington offers a Master's of Science in Nursing, or MSN, with a certificate in pediatric nurse practitioner. Likewise, most other graduate nursing programs offer a similar degree, either calling the PNP portion a "certificate" or "specialty focus" of the MSN.
After a Master's
RNs who already have a master's degree in nursing, but not in a pediatric specialty, can still become a PNP without having to re-do their entire graduate career. Some schools of nursing offer a post-master's certificate in pediatric practitioner studies. For example, the University of Florida offers a post-master's pediatric primary care practitioner certificate for students who already have an MSN. This, like other similar programs, provides the skills and knowledge necessary to earn certification as a PNP.
A Doctor of Sorts
Nurses who want to further specialize past a master's degree may want to consider a doctoral program. Getting a Doctor of Nursing Practice in PNP allows graduates to specialize in pediatrics at a high level, leading to a leadership role in the field. These programs may focus on a particular area of the profession. For example, the University of Maryland's School of Nursing's pediatric nurse practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice degree includes a concentration in either acute care or primary care.
Entrance into a master's-level PNP program typically includes a bachelor's degree in nursing. Some schools, such as the University of New Mexico, will also allow an RN with a bachelor's degree in another area to apply to the master's program. Additionally, you'll need work experience -- typically, two years -- for admissions. Admissions into a post-master's or doctoral program will also require an MSN, along with professional experience as an RN.