Pediatric nurse practitioners are NPs who specialize in the care of pediatric patients. They perform essential nursing functions but are also responsible for gathering a history, performing physical exams, diagnosing, and prescribing medications. They can also act as a child's primary care provider.

Pediatrics is a specialized population. There are differences in anatomy, disease processes, and treatments that are not the same as in the care of adults. Therefore, prior experience is critical to becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner.

When nurses enroll in an advanced degree nurse practitioner program, they must choose a specialty track to focus on. It could be adults, pediatrics, acute care, or family medicine. Some programs require a year or two of previous staff nurse experience in pediatrics before enrollment, while others allow for concurrent experience. Students are encouraged to check the school website to determine specific admission criteria.

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Staff nurses who have no pediatrics experience and who wish to become pediatric nurse practitioners should consider cross-training to pediatrics. The more experience attained, the smoother the transition to a pediatric nurse practitioner in the future.

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