Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Certification

How does one become a certified pediatric nurse or certified pediatric nurse practitioner?

Becoming a pediatric nurse requires first becoming licensed as a registered nurse under the regulations promulgated by the nursing board in the state in which you plan to practice, and then pursuing certification. Pediatric nurse practitioners must also meet their state's requirements for licensure as an advanced practice nurses. After licensure, you will need to meet the requirements for certification that are set forth by your state. Generally, these requirements include successfully completing the certification process offered by a national credentialing agency.

The most prominent national credentialing agency in the field of pediatric nursing is the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB). The PNCB administers certification examinations that have been approved by a number of professional pediatric nursing bodies, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, the Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs, and the Society of Pediatric Nurses.

What is the Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse certification exam?

Those who intend to pursue a career as general pediatric nurses may take the Certified Pediatric Nurse exam offered by the PCNB. The Certified Pediatric Nurse examination is designed for nurses with extensive experience treating pediatric patients and with knowledge of the field beyond that of a typical registered nurse. However, those who aspire to work in acute care settings, such as emergency rooms and intensive care units, may also take the Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse certification examination which was developed in collaboration with the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing.

What other specialized certification options exist for pediatric NPs?

Graduates of pediatric nurse practitioner programs have the choice of taking examinations to become certified as either primary care providers or acute/emergency care pediatric nurse practitioners, depending on the content of the curriculum they pursued during their studies. In addition, beginning in 2011, the PCNB will also administer the Child and Adolescent Behavioral & Mental Health Specialty Certification Exam. This certification examination is designed especially for pediatric nurse practitioners who hope to work in psychiatric settings or with specific patient populations, such as developmentally challenged or disabled children, or even mentally ill or suicidal adolescents.

What is Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)?

In addition to these general certifications, it is advisable for pediatric nurses and pediatric nurse practitioners to become certified in Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) through the American Heart Association. Other available certifications include training in Basic Trauma Life Support and Pediatric Basic Trauma Life Support. Special certification courses that can be of particular value to pediatric nurses and pediatric nurse practitioners who work in acute care settings include the Emergency Nurse Pediatric Course offered by the Emergency Nurses Association. Employers will often pay for this additional professional training.

What are the benefits of certification for pediatric nurses?

Pediatric nurse certification and pediatric NP certification provide many career benefits. Those who can demonstrate that they have been certified by a respected national credentialing organization tend to make more money than those who are not yet certified. They are more likely to be considered for open positions and get interviews for either the pediatric nurse or pediatric nurse practitioner jobs they are most interested in pursuing. Therefore, certified pediatric nurses and pediatric nurse practitioners enjoy enhanced career mobility in terms of the ability to move from job to job and to move up through the ranks into positions that demand more responsibility and provide more challenge and reward.

Pediatric Nurse Schools

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