Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
A pediatric nurse practitioner is a nurse who can provide specialized nursing care to infants, toddlers, as well as adolescents. Their responsibilities include conducting tests and physical exams, diagnosing common illness, and administering treatment procedures and medication to their patients. When required, they are also authorized to order various types of lab tests, blood tests, x-rays and other medical procedures. They regularly communicate with their patients to manage any diseases they may have such as diabetes.
A pediatric nurse practitioner also provides moral support and counseling to the families of their patients. They go the extra mile to provide care and any information they can to their patients and their families to keep them in the loop with all the things they need to know.
They are often the point of contact for families when they are dealing with difficult or stressful situations, especially when the child is going through a painful or even terminal illness. A pediatric nurse practitioner makes use of data derived from diagnostic exams, physical tests, medical records and other sources which enables him or her to make important decisions in relation to improving their patients’ condition as much as possible.
Other common pediatric nurse practitioner responsibilities include:
- Performing medical procedures such as laboratory exams, blood and urine tests, x-rays, and others related to heart and lung tests. They also have the authority to require further testing to be conducted if deemed necessary.
- Regular meetings with parents and families to discuss the condition, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options available. They do everything they can to help the families understand as much as possible about the child’s condition.
- Diagnosing and treating common childhood illnesses.
- Performing physical exams in schools.
- Conducting routine developmental screenings.
- Creating accurate patient records by gathering accurate data from family medical records, patient medical history, and other sources.
- Interpreting lab results and relating these to various treatment options possible.
- Communicating with families to ensure there are regular follow-ups for medications, consultation, and other procedures to monitor healing.
- Getting involved in programs such as those that provide vaccination, group support, health clinics and other information programs for communities.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Characteristics
A pediatric nurse practitioner should be an excellent decision maker and critical thinker because the job often requires that they make important decisions within a short time frame. They should also be able to work well under pressure and in a very stressful environment.
A Pediatric nurse practitioner should have good communication skills, as they are frequently speaking with pediatricians, lab technicians, medical support staff, as well as families who are emotionally sensitive and undergoing stress.
Patience and empathy are also crucial as many times they may be required to help children rehabilitate and get their lives back to normal after losing their ability to walk or stand due to a particular illness. They should be open to working in a variety of healthcare institutions such as clinics, hospitals, specialty clinics, and children’s hospitals.
When working with patients’ families, they ideally should approach the situation holistically and be able to effectively communicate alternatives, costs, possible side effects, and any alternative procedures they may prefer.
In order to pursue a career as a pediatric nurse practitioner, one must possess an advanced degree in nursing. It is a prerequisite to complete an undergraduate degree program in nursing before attaining a Master’s Degree program. Some students opt for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing while others prefer to complete an Associate Degree in Nursing which they supplement by taking further nursing bridge programs offered in numerous medical institutions.
Aspiring pediatric nurse practitioners also have the option to gain in-depth knowledge and specialized backgrounds on skills such as those focused on neurology, orthopedics, or other specific health care services which children need.
The curriculum of undergraduate nursing degrees have common core subjects such as:
- Health assessment
- Community nursing
- Nursing ethics
- Complex health problems
Undergraduate degree programs also combine general education courses into the curriculum together with the nursing-specific courses. However, those who come from non-nursing backgrounds may also take accelerated nursing courses to get started in a pediatric nursing career.
To become certified, all aspiring pediatric nurses must take and pass the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses, or NCLEX . Different states around the country may have their own additional requirements on top of these such as licensing and registration.
In order for one to enter into a Master’s of Science in Nursing, one must already have significant, recent work experience and a nursing license for at least one year. The degree can be completed in two years if the student pursues it on a full-time schedule. Students must complete all core nursing subjects before they are able to choose the pediatric nurse practitioner focus.
Acquiring professional accountability is crucial in furthering one’s career as a pediatric nurse practitioner. This can be done by actively participating in various professional organizations, demonstrating their competency through peer reviews, and taking part in different certification programs.
In addition to pursuing continuous education whenever possible, each pediatric nurse practitioner should also keep up to date with the latest news on treatments and research in their field as well as be aware of public issues which have an impact on the health of their patients and families.
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