The Path to Becoming a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

The Path to Becoming a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Do you work well with children while also possessing a keen interest in medicine? If so, pediatrics could be the right fit for your professional future.

There’s nothing wrong with shooting for the moon in the form of applying to medical school. However, becoming a licensed physician is a long and difficult process.

What’s more, modern healthcare depends on many different professionals working together. While pediatricians get most of the credit as well as the lion’s share of the payroll, they can’t do it alone.

Enter nurse practitioners (NPs), specifically certified pediatric nurse practitioners. They play an increasingly vital role in pediatric wards across the world. What’s more, NPs work without the supervision of a physician. In most instances, NPs can diagnose diseases, prescribe medications, and provide treatments to their patients.

Since nurse practitioners must possess many of the qualifications of doctors, becoming a pediatric NP is not for the faint of heart. It requires many years of hard work.

The good news is that the demand for pediatric NPs is at an all-time high. What’s more, most states are implementing incentives to encourage more people to become nurse practitioners. With this in mind, let’s take a look at six key stages of the path to becoming a certified pediatric nurse practitioner:

Become a registered nurse

Those wishing to become nurse practitioners must first become registered nurses (RNs). That means graduating from nursing school and successfully passing the NCLEX-RN exam. While many aspiring NPs choose to spend several years working as RNs in order to gain as much hands-on experience as possible, it’s not required.

Apply to an accredited nurse practitioner program with pediatric specialization

The next step to becoming a pediatric NP is to apply to graduate school. Specifically, you’ll need to gain acceptance into an accredited nurse practitioner program with a specialization in pediatric care. Accreditation is determined by one of two organizations: the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Acquire 500 clinical practice hours in primary care pediatrics

Every aspiring nurse practitioner must complete at least 500 hours of clinical practice hours. Those looking to become pediatric NPs will need to do so in a primary care pediatrics setting. Doing so not only fulfills the required amount of hours but also ensures the individual has a sufficient amount of knowledge and experience related to pediatric medicine.

Pass state certification

Every state has its own certification process for nurse practitioners. Some may have additional requirements for those looking to become pediatric nurse practitioners. As you can imagine, acquiring this certification will be required before you’re legally allowed to work as a pediatric nurse practitioner in that state. In other words, if you move to a different state, you’ll need to obtain a new certification.

Pass the CPNP exam

The CPNP exam is designed to test your knowledge of pediatric medicine. Taking practice tests and participating in exam prep sessions is recommended in order to take fresh and increase the likelihood of passing with flying colors. Given its extreme difficulty, failing the exam on your first try should not be interpreted as a sign you aren’t cut out to become a CPNP. It simply means you should spend more time practicing and preparing prior to your next attempt.

Renew your certification once per year

You passed the CPNP exam. Congratulations! You’re now a certified pediatric nurse practitioner! But you should know you’ll need to renew your certification every year going forward. This ensures you stay up-to-date on the latest developments in pediatric medicine.

The only step left is to begin your career as a certified pediatric nurse practitioner. You’ll be serving a vital role in the lives of parents and their children for years to come!

Are you determined to pursue a career in medicine? Do you happen to also work well with children? If so, consider becoming a certified nurse practitioner. Demand is high, and so is the pay. But more importantly, you’ll help keep children healthy and happy. That’s quite a rewarding way to earn a living. Sure, it’s hard work, but it’s worth every ounce of sweat.

About the author


Steven Ly

Steven Ly is the Startup Program and Events Manager at TheNextHint Inc. She recruits rockstar startups for all TC events including Disrupt, meetups, Sessions, and more both domestically and internationally. Previously, she helped produce Dreamforce with Salesforce and Next '17 with Google. Prior to that, she was on the advertising teams at both Facebook and AdRoll, helping support advertisers in North America and helped grow those brands globally. Outside of work, Priya enjoys Flywheel, tacos, the 49ers, and adventuring around the globe.

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