Pediatric Nurse Archive

Pediatric Nurse

Pediatric nurses provide care to children and adolescents in many types of healthcare settings. This is a highly responsible career for compassionate professionals who wish to devote their career to caring for the young. But before you find out exactly how to become a pediatric nurse practitioner and are pediatric nurse education requirements , you first need to know exactly what is a pediatric nurse and what the career entails.

Career Overview

Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNP) provide both preventative and acute care to children and adolescents up to 18 years of age. Pediatric nurse practitioners perform medical examinations, diagnose medical conditions, and provide education and support to the patient and his or her family. Many PNPs work in intensive care units (ICU) and critical care units (CCU) with pediatricians and other members of the health care team.

Pediatric nurse practitioners work in a variety of healthcare settings to include hospitals, rehabilitation settings, community clinics, home health agencies, as well as private physician offices.

Preventative duties of pediatric nurse practitioners include:

– Preventative care to include medical examinations.

– Perform  examinations so child may attend school

– Perform development screenings and note progress

– Diagnosis and treatment of common childhood ailments

– Administration of scheduled immunizations (e.g. TB, rubella, etc.)

– Guidance and advice to families or primary caregivers with regard to common childhood health issues.

Acute care duties and roles of pediatric nurse practitioners include:

-Caring for children and adolescents who have critical care needs.

-Conducting in-depth physical examinations

-Evaluating laboratory and other diagnostic tests

-Providing therapeutic treatment and ordering appropriate medications

-Pediatric nurse practitioners may specialize in a certain area of care such as cardiology, oncology, rehabilitation, or mental health.

Career Outlook

As with all areas of nursing practice, the demand for pediatric nurses is expected to increase significantly (by 23 percent as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) through the year 2018. As a general rule, the more training and certifications a nurse accrues the greater the demand for their services.  

Demand results in increased salaries, along with the availability of financial aid in the form of grants and loans for nurse educational programs. These factors taken together make this a great time to become a pediatric nurse. 

Pediatric Nurse Education Requirements and Training

Pediatric nurses are registered nurses (RN) who typically possess a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

After accumulating a certain amount of work experience caring for children and adolescents, a pediatric nurse may take a specialty examination to become a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN). To become a CPN, you will need to meet the following requirements in addition to being an RN:

– Earn a Master of Science Degree in Nursing (MSN) degree that includes classes in pediatric nursing. Many graduate nursing schools offer this master’s degree in a two-year program.

– Obtain recognition as an advanced practice nurse by your state board of nursing (BON). You can access your state board of nursing by visiting the Web site of the National Council for State Boards of Nursing.

– Become certified as a CPN through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. While voluntary, certification provides evidence that you have met the highest standards for pediatric nursing practice. Pediatric nurses are eligible for career advancement opportunities and typically earn a much higher salary than those not having this credential. Certification is also required in many states in order to practice as a pediatric nurse.


PNCB Certification

As per the PNCB over 30,000 nurses currently hold certification through this organization which is considered by many employers, educators, and health care providers be the “gold standard” of credentialing within the field of pediatric nursing. PNCB certification programs are recognized by the NCSBN, as well as most individual state boards of nursing.

Specialty Exams Available Through the PNCP

PNCB certification provides evidence that you have developed special skills, knowledge, and abilities (KSAs) in the area of pediatric nursing. As per the PNCB, the exams are recognized and endorsed by a variety or professional organizations: “The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN), the Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs (AFPNP), and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP).”

Specialty exams include the Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse exam with the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN®), and [the recently launched] Child & Adolescent Behavioral & Mental Health Specialty Certification Exam for APRNs (Advanced Practice RNs).

Specialty Exam Titles

Pediatric Nurse (CPN)

This exam is targeted toward those nurses with extensive experience providing care to children and adolescents and are able to demonstrate advanced knowledge, skills, and abilities in pediatric nursing beyond what is required to obtain initial RN licensure.

Pediatric Emergency Nurse (CPEN)

This exam is for nurses providing emergency care to child and adolescent patients. The PNCP and the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) have partnered in the development and administration of this examination. Both agencies recommend that candidates have two years experience in pediatric emergency care prior to applying for the examination.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CNP)

This exam is for pediatric nurse practitioners with significant knowledge regarding diagnostic procedures and the management of pediatric healthcare issues. It is also recommended that nurses have two years work experience in pediatrics before sitting for this exam.

Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP)

For pediatric nurse practitioners with extensive knowledge, skills, and abilities in addressing and managing the acute care issues of children and adolescents in hospitals, community clinics, and home environments.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health

For pediatric nurses with extensive knowledge, skills, and abilities in the identification, intervention, and treatment of children and adolescents with behavioral and mental health issues. This exam was introduced in 2011.

Study resources through the PNCB for all specialty exams:

  • Online practice exams. Contain similar questions to what are included in the actual exams.
  • Testing taking strategy module: Provides exam preparation advice, suggestions for answering multiple choice questions, and suggestions for managing test-taking anxiety.
  • Exam Resources: Includes information on test construction and content, test-taking tips, and sample questions.

Eligibility to Take a Specialty Exam through the PCNB:

1.      Complete an online application and

2.      Possess a current, active, unrestricted RN license in the U.S. Canada, Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands and

3.      Documentation of experience as required by that specialty (e.g. 1800 hours within the past two years for the CPN exam and 2 recent years experience as a pediatric emergency nurse for the CPEN exam). All experience must have taken place in a healthcare facility within the U.S., Canada, Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

4.      As per the PNCB, pediatric nursing experience includes direct patient care, teaching, administration, clinical research, school-based care, home health care, or consultation in pediatric nursing.

5.      After the PNCB receives your application and all supporting materials (school transcripts, letter of recommendation, copy of RN license, etc.) the agency will review and determine your eligibility to sit for one of the specialty exams.

6.      You may check the status of your application on the PNCB Web site ( under “My account.”

7.      Once eligibility has been determined, PNCB will notify candidates by email or postcard of their 90 day window in which to register for the exam.

8.      The PNCB has contracted with Prometric test centers to administer the specialty examinations with the exception of the CPEN exam which is administered by Applied Measurement Professionals ( ). You may register with Prometric online or telephone. Visit the testing center Web site ( for further information regarding each option.

9.      The fee for each specialty exam is $285 which includes a $100. Non-refundable registration fee.

10.  Refer to the Specialty Exam Handbook available on the PNCB Web site for further information regarding the administration of these exams (

Median pediatric nurse salary ranges in select regional areas. 

Los Angeles, CA



Boulder, CO



Boca Raton, FL



Atlanta, GA



New York, NY



Dallas, TX



Figures from

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