Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PNP-AC)

Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Role

The primary role of a pediatric acute care nurse practitioner is to provide care for acutely, critically and chronically ill children from newborn to 21 years old. In rare cases, care is extended to individuals older than 21. Pediatric acute care nurse practitioners can work in a variety of settings, including community agencies, hospitals, pediatric emergency departments, pediatric sedation services, pediatric intensive care units and inpatient management for various subspecialty clinics.

Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice

Pediatric acute care nurses include a variety of duties diagnose and treat acute, critical and chronic illness in children. They counsel and care for children and coordinate interdisciplinary models of referral, relationships, ethics, conflict resolution and implementation of health plans. Pediatric acute care nurses assist children and their families in preparation for sensitive life-cycle moments and treatment milestones. They integrate ethical principles into complex plans of treatment working closely with patients, families, health care professionals and multidisciplinary ethics communities.

Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Salary

There is little credible information on the salary for pediatric acute care nurse practitioners, as it is a niche off of nurse practitioner careers. As such, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that nurse practitioners earn a mean salary of $107,030. These rates may change depending on industry, state, and earned certifications.

How to Become a Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Requirements

There are many steps to becoming a pediatric acute care nurse practitioner. Education, certification and clinical practice are among the requirements for being accepted into a nurse practitioner program. Here is a step-by-step path you can take to become a pediatric acute care nurse practitioner.

  1. Become a registered nurse. In order to apply to a pediatric nurse practitioner program, one must have a license as a registered nurse in a U.S. state or territory. Passing the NCLEX-RN examination is required for certification as a registered nurse. 
  2. Apply to a nurse practitioner program with a specialization in pediatric acute care accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). They must be master’s, postgraduate or doctoral programs. 
  3. Earn 500-600 clinical practice hours in acute care pediatrics. If you are applying for the Acute Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-AC) exam from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB), it is highly recommended that you pursue 600 hours of clinical practice.
  4. Apply for state certification as a pediatric nurse practitioner in the state where you wish to practice.
  5. Apply to take the pediatric primary care nurse practitioner exam administered by the PNCB to earn your certification. The exam tests comprehension of assessment and diagnostic techniques, pharmacology, theory and more. Final transcripts and proof of education are required. 
  6. Once you have earned your pediatric acute care nurse practitioner certification, it must be renewed every year. In addition to renewing certification through the board, renewal through the state is also required and may require additional fulfillment of continuing education contact hours.

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Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs

The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) recognizes acute care pediatric nurse practitioner programs, as accredited by the CCNE or ACEN. Each of these recognized programs include coursework on advanced physiology and pathophysiology, advanced pharmacology, and advanced health assessment. Some of these programs are doctorate level, other’s masters offering additional certifications post-graduation. 

Online Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs

When looking for an online acute care pediatric nurse practitioner program, make sure that it is high quality, with interactive features such as live classes and placement services that will help you get the most out of your education. Some universities offer online nurse practitioner programs that are identical to what they offer on campus, allowing students to earn a degree from a university they know and whose reputation they trust, without having to move there. 

Learn more about acute care nurse practitioner programs online.

Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification

Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) – Acute Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-AC)

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Active RN license
  • Master’s degree or higher from a pediatric acute care nurse practitioner program
  • 500-600 clinical hours of supervised direct care is required in acute care pediatrics
  • Three graduate-level courses in advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology

Fees: The Acute Care CPNP® Exam is $385, which includes a $130 non refundable registration fee.
Renewal: To maintain your status, you will need to participate in the PNCB’s recertification program between November 1 and January 31. Recertification ensures that you’re staying current in your field.

Information on the PNCB certification for acute care certified pediatric nurse practitioner was retrieved as of February 2020. For the most up-to-date information, refer to PNCB’s website.