There are a lot of nurse practitioner jobs out there covering a lot of different disciplines. So what would make a nurse choose one discipline over another? What is it about pediatrics that compels a nurse to get into the field? Perhaps a little bit of information about what a pediatric nurse practitioner does can answer these questions.
Like other nurse practitioners, the pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) is a registered nurse who has received additional education and clinical training in order to specialize in treating children from infancy through 18 years of age. We typically think of these individuals as working in a general practice or pediatric specialty, but they're also visible in lots of other places. You may see a pediatric nurse practitioner working at:
- public or private clinics
- elementary, junior high, and high schools
- kids camps and day programs
- daycare centers and nursery schools
Pediatric nurse practitioners start in a traditional nursing program just like all of their nursing peers. Some begin working as certified nurse assistants (CNAs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs) while they continue their education to finish their RN program. From there they go on to a few more years of education as required by their states to work as a pediatric nurse practitioner. Those extra years of education will give the nurse the knowledge and specialized skills to treat pediatric patients.
Some PNPs prefer to take nurse practitioner jobs in even more specialized environments such as orthopedics, immunology, and neurology. Some even decide to seek national certification which requires a Masters degree in nursing. With every degree of specialty the nurse practitioner wants to add comes additional education and training. To begin working as a PNP takes about six years minimum; working all the way to a Masters degree could take 8 to 10 years.
A Typical Daily Routine
Because the scope of nurse practitioner jobs is so variable it's nearly impossible to say what the typical daily routine of a PNP is. But since most pediatric nurse practitioners work in a private practice setting we'll use their job descriptions as a starting point.
In a private pediatrics practice a PNP will assist a physician in seeing patients for all sorts of routine ailments. Oftentimes parents will prefer the nurse practitioner over the doctor because she can spend more time with the child, she's more readily available, and she makes a child feel more at ease. As a general rule PNPs will:
- perform well child examinations and routine preventative care
- perform standard developmental examinations
- provide scheduled immunizations
- provide school physicals
- provide education and guidance to parents in raising healthy children
One of the advantages the pediatric nurse practitioner has comes by way of treatment plans and prescriptions. Although a registered nurse can do a lot of things for patients, she is limited in that she cannot prescribe drugs or develop a treatment plan on her own. The pediatric nurse practitioner can. Even though the PNP works under the direct supervision of a physician, she is free to write prescriptions and devise treatment options.
Working as a Locum
There are plenty of permanent pediatric nurse practitioner jobs available all across the country. But for those who don't want to be tied down to a specific practice or clinic, working as a locum tenens nurse practitioner is another option. Locum tenens workers take temporary assignments lasting between three and six months on average. They can work within 50 to 100 miles of their homes, or they can travel all across the country. Whatever their preferences, they can be accommodated.
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