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How To Become A Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

May 23, 2022
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What is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?How To Become a Pediatric Nurse PractitionerTop Pediatric Nurse Practitioner ProgramsFAQs


Reviewed by:

Akhil Katakam

Third-Year Medical Student, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Reviewed: 5/23/22

Many noble professions exist in our society, and a pediatric nurse practitioner ranks as one of the most dignified. These nurse practitioners devote their time and energy to ensure the health and safety of children. Of course there are downsides to the career, and the work itself can be quite exhausting, but many believe the hardship is worth it in the end.

While some may have known that they wanted to become a pediatric nurse practitioner right from the start, others might have stumbled upon this career. Either way, you’re probably a little unsure how to pursue this field. What are the steps to becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner? How long does the process take? In this article, we’ll answer these questions and provide a list of some of the best pediatric nurse practitioner programs to help you get started on your career path. 

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What is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?

A pediatric nurse practitioner provides the utmost care to children as old as 21. Whether you work in a clinic or a hospital, your job is to ensure the health and safety of children. Children are more susceptible to disease and sickness since their immune systems are not fully developed; therefore, they require a large amount of attention. 

You’ll be taught essentially the same basics as a regular nurse practitioner, but you’ll also learn how   to apply this knowledge to children. Children are susceptible to the same illnesses as adults, but you might treat these illnesses differently depending on the child’s age. For this reason,  the prescribed medication, for example, will also vary . 

Ultimately, you’ll provide the best medical care to children with the freedom to have a little fun with the job. Children are often afraid of the doctor, so part of your job is to make them feel safe and comfortable. An excellent way to do this is by making  jokes or distracting them with toys. You’re allowed to be silly and have a little fun to make the children feel relaxed. And most importantly, you’ll be making a difference in the lives of these children by ensuring their health and safety. 

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How To Become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

When it comes to a nursing career, understand that you’ll spend a significant amount of time in school. And while pediatric nursing is no exception,don’t let that scare you away from pursuing your dream. Though the road seems long, it’s a noble and rewarding profession. In this section, we’ll discuss the steps to becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner so you’ll know what to expect once you’re ready to begin your journey. 


Practitioners must meet specific licensing requirements before they can practice pediatric nursing. To begin this process, you’ll need to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, along with a master’s degree. Many colleges offer this degree option, and we’ll talk about some of the best nurse practitioner programs later. 


Once you begin nursing school, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to gain experience in the field. In addition to education, every nursing program consists of a component, such as clinicals, that allow you to gain first-hand experience applying the knowledge you’ve learned during nursing school.  You’ll get to see what it’s like being a nurse and find out  if you’re fit for the career path. 

If your high school offers a nursing pathway, you can begin your clinicals before you go to college. You’ll get the added benefit of more nursing experience, and you’ll get to hone your skills before you pursue a bachelor’s degree. 

You could also choose to volunteer at your local hospital or ask if you could shadow a pediatric nurse practitioner to gain more experience. Ensuring the health and safety of children requires an immense amount of dedication and practice, so acquiring this experience is necessary for your career. 


Once you’ve acquired your bachelor’s degree in nursing, you’ll move on to taking an exam to earn your licensure.  To become a nurse, you’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure (NCLEX) to receive your RN license. This exam tests your nursing knowledge and determines if you’re ready to pursue the career. Before you take the exam, you’ll need to contact the nursing regulatory body in your state to obtain an Authorization To Test (ATT) to determine your eligibility to take the exam. 

Once you’ve passed the NCLEX, you’ll then need to obtain an RN license in your state. Like  doctors, to be a practitioner, nurses must be licensed in the same state they wish to practice. After you’ve completed your bachelor’s and passed the NCLEX, you’ll then begin a Master’s Degree in Nursing  to become a nurse practitioner. 


After earning your master’s, you’ll then begin the certification process  by taking the National NP Certification Board Exam to become a licensed nurse practitioner. Once you’ve passed the exam, you’ll then apply for licensure in your state. To maintain your NP status, you’ll need to renew your certification periodically by meeting certain requirements or continuing education, depending on your state. 

Though the journey seems long and difficult, the profession is rewarding. You’ll make a difference in the lives of children by providing the best medical care, and you’ll get to have a little fun and meet lots of great kids.

Top Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

We understand the importance of making an excellent first impression in the medical field. You want to show these clinics and hospitals that you’re deserving of a position in this career, so we’ve provided a list of the top pediatric nurse practitioner programs in the United States. 

University of Washington

The University of Washington stands as the only institution in the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho region to offer a pediatric nurse track. In this program, you’ll learn everything you need to become a nurse practitioner and earn clinical experience to prepare you for the nursing field. 

Mission Statement: “The Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care (PNP-PC) track within the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program specializes in preparing students to provide ongoing care of children, from infancy through young adulthood.”


Application Requirements

Quarterly Tuition

University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh ranks third in the clinical nurse leader and ranks sixth in MSN programs. This university offers an excellent nursing program that prepares students for the demands as a nurse practitioner. 

Mission Statement: “To provide high-quality undergraduate education in nursing, maintain and develop superior graduate programs in nursing that respond to the needs of health care in general and nursing in particular within Pennsylvania, the nation, and the world, and engage in research and other scholarly activities that advance learning through the extension of the frontiers of knowledge in health care.”


Application Requirements

Annual Tuition

Yale University

Yale University ranks as the third-best nurse practitioner program in the United States. The university offers excellent education and phenomenal clinical experience for aspiring nurse practitioners. 

Mission Statement: “The ultimate Mission of the Yale School of Nursing is better health for all people. We accomplish this by educating each generation of nurse leaders, scholars and practitioners, transforming healthcare practice, and advancing science.”


Application Requirements


Duke University School of Nursing

According to US News Report, Duke University ranks #1 for its pediatric nurse practitioner program. This university offers a plethora of laboratory opportunities to hone your nursing skills. 

Mission Statement: “The mission of the Duke University School of Nursing is to create a center of excellence for the advancement of nursing science, the promotion of clinical scholarship and the education of clinical leaders, advanced practitioners and researchers.”


Application Requirements


Rush University

Rush University provides a dynamic nurse practitioner program that students can earn from the comfort of their homes. Some of the classes offered at this university are hybrid courses, in which students attend both in class and  online; however,  students can take most  courses remotely. 

Mission Statement: “The mission of Rush University College of Nursing is to integrate nursing practice, scholarship, and education throughout the diverse communities we serve and to boldly lead health care transformation to ensure health equity across the continuum of care.”


Application Requirements


University of Iowa

The University of Iowa gives students the opportunity to earn an education in a smaller class setting. This university gives online as well as hybrid courses to prepare students for their career as a nurse practitioner. 

Mission Statement: “The Mission of the College of Nursing is to prepare nurse leaders to advocate and advance health care across the lifespan for the people of Iowa, our nation, and the world.”


Application Requirements


University of South Florida

Founded in 1973, the University of South Florida holds campuses in Tampa, Sarasota, and St. Petersburg, and administers one of the top 50 nursing programs in the country. 

Mission Statement: “Employ the core values of excellence, innovation, inclusion, and respect to educate future nurses, advance nursing science, and implement evidence-based clinical practice to improve health and wellness.”


Application Requirements


Maryville University

Maryville University lists four PNP programs that are 100% online. Students complete the program  from the comfort of their homes allowing those who work to enjoy a degree of flexibility as they earn their education.

Mission Statement: “The mission of the nursing program at Maryville University is educating students for a variety of nursing roles in the 21st century.”


You can find information on the application process and requirements here


University of Texas Health Science Center

The University of Texas Health Science Center gives a prestigious nursing education and clinical experience for aspiring nurse practitioners. The school offers five nursing programs and plenty of research programs as well. 

Mission Statement: “We develop diverse nurse leaders to improve health and health care, through education, research, practice, and community engagement.”



Florida International University

The Florida International University grants 30 programs and contains over 20,000 alumni. The university has two campuses in Miami: the Modesto A. Maidique Campus in Southwest Miami and the Biscayne Bay Campus in Northeast Miami.

Mission Statement: “The mission of the FIU Nursing department is to teach, conduct research, and serve the community.”




If you still have questions about becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner, we've got you covered!

1. How much does a pediatric nurse practitioner make?

A pediatric nurse practitioner’s salary ranges from approximately $96,000 to $120,000 per year. Though money isn’t everything, this profession will offer stability in your life, as well as the opportunity to pay off any debt you accrued during your education.

2. How long does it take to become a pediatric nurse practitioner?

Students can expect to become  licensed pediatric nurse practitioners after six years.  After earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing, which takes an average of four years to complete, you must then complete a nurse practitioner program. 

3. What’s the difference between a pediatric nurse and a pediatric nurse practitioner?

A pediatric nurse begins practicing once they have  completed  a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Nursing A pediatric nurse practitioner, on the other hand, goes on to pursue a master’s after earning their bachelor’s degree. Your decision depends on whether you want to begin practicing after four years of education,  whether you wish to pursue a deeper understanding of pediatric care, as well as your desired salary, since an NP earns more than a nurse. 

4. How much does a pediatric nurse make?

A pediatric nurse’s salary ranges from $61,000 to $95,000. Though you won’t earn as much as a nurse practitioner, you’ll still live quite comfortably and can manage to pay off any debt you’ve earned over the years. 

5. Can a pediatric nurse practitioner prescribe medication?

While the requirements vary from state to state, nurse practitioners can prescribe medication, including controlled substances, with the supervision of a doctor. 

6. Can pediatric nurse practitioners perform surgery?

Yes, nurse practitioners can assist in surgeries as long as they have the proper training. 

7. Can pediatric nurse practitioners practice independently?

Whether a pediatric nurse practitioner can  practice independently depends on the state they’re licensed. Some states allow pediatric nurse practitioners to practice independently, while others require these practices to be supervised by a physician. You’ll need to research the state requirements for the state you wish to practice medicine. 

8. Is the NCLEX hard?

The NCLEX tests your abilities to practice medicine as a nurse. The exam is designed to wean the weak from the strong, so it’s a difficult exam. But with plenty of studying and preparation, you’ll be sure to pass the exam. 

Final Thoughts

The road to becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner seems long and arduous. You’ll have to devote at least six years of your life studying and testing  to earn your nursing license. Nurses are expected to pursue continuing education because it is  constantly evolving.

But if you’re passionate about the career, some days it won’t feel like work at all. If this is a career you truly want to pursue, don’t let the journey’s difficulties hold you back.. As a pediatric nurse practitioner, you’ll help ensure the health and safety of children of all ages. You’ll get to experience the magic of growth and development, and you’re allowed to be a little silly and have fun to make the kids feel more comfortable. You’ll get to make a difference in a child’s life and earn a stable income as you do so. 

After reading this guide, you should have a better understanding of what to expect, and how to pursue a pediatric nurse practitioner program. No matter when you begin your journey, if you follow this guide, you’re sure to become a successful pediatric nurse practitioner. Good luck and happy studying!

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