Pediatric nurses differ from pediatric nurse practitioners in many ways. Pediatric nurses perform essential nursing functions to care for pediatric patients. This includes physical assessment, developing a nursing care plan, implementing nursing care and treatment, and evaluating response. They administer medications and vaccines as well as other procedures in the hospital or ambulatory care setting.

Pediatric registered nurses are nurses who have either an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing and have passed the NCLEX-RN exam. Many have worked in pediatric units in their nursing program to ensure they have gained the clinical skills needed to work as a pediatric staff nurse after graduation.

Pediatric nurse practitioners are advanced-practice nurses. This means they have earned a bachelor's degree and moved on to a master's or doctoral degree nurse practitioner program. Pediatric nurse practitioners have also completed a pediatric NP "track" within their advanced-degree program, which prepares them to care for the pediatric population. Additionally, they must obtain pediatric nurse certifications.

Pediatric nurse practitioners can perform the same functions as a pediatric nurse, but they mainly are responsible for the overall management of care of pediatric patients. They conduct physical exams, take a history, diagnose, and can prescribe medications. They can also act as a patient's primary care provider.

Both pediatric staff nurses and pediatric NPs are highly specialized. Children are not just "small adults." They have anatomical differences and specific disease processes that require specially trained nurses and NPs to care for them.

One may also be interested to learn more about pediatric endocrinology nurses.

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN
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