Top Online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs (2023-2024)
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Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) play a vital role in the lives of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults in diagnosing and treating acute and chronic illnesses and well-visit checkups and preventive care. PNPs also seek to meet their patients’ physiological and psychological needs and help parents and families properly care for their children and infants for optimal health and well-being.
There are two types of Pediatric NP programs: PNP-PC programs are designed for aspiring pediatric NPs interested in working in primary care, and PNP-AC programs are designed for those more interested in working in pediatric acute care.
The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) offers certifications that align with each.
Certified primary care pediatric nurse practitioners (CPNP-PCs) work in primary care settings, schools, hospitals, home care situations, and specialty clinics and refer patients to other healthcare team members when necessary.
The role of a CPNP-PC is to “provide care to children from birth through young adults with an in-depth knowledge and experience in pediatric primary healthcare including well-child care and prevention/management of common pediatric acute illnesses and chronic conditions” (PNCB 2023). They can assess, evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients across the spectrum of primary care. The primary care PNP advocates for infants, children, and young adults to promote quality, cost-effective care and safety for all involved.
Certified acute care pediatric nurse practitioners (CPNP-ACs) work with patients in the same age range who suffer from “acute, complex, critical, and chronic illness across a variety of care settings” (PNCB 2023).
Acute care PNPs work in emergency departments, hospitals, intensive care units, home healthcare, and subspecialty clinics. They collaborate directly with healthcare teams responsible for the patient’s care and well-being, developing care plans and monitoring patient care and recovery. In addition, they secure parental/guardian permission when caring for their patients.
The PNCB also offers a secondary PMHS (Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist ) certification designed for primary care pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs), family nurse practitioners (FNPs), and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs). PMHSs specialize in “strengthening care to children and families experiencing developmental, behavioral, and mental healthcare concerns” (PNCB 2023). The pediatric PMHS certification enables eligible NPs to assess, diagnose, treat, and manage mental health conditions in children, adolescents, and young adults. PMHSs work in pediatric primary care, family practices, school-based clinics, and other specialty areas, collaborating with other healthcare providers such as therapists, psychiatrists, and physicians.
Registered nurses looking to become pediatric nurse practitioners have a number of options. Earning an online master’s degree, doctoral degree, or post-master’s certificate with a PNP specialization, and then a certification from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, opens up a wide range of careers in pediatric primary care, acute care, or mental health nursing for the interested RN.
Online Pediatric NP Program Rankings (2023-2024)
Distance-based PNP programs typically offer online coursework, flexibility in course load and time to completion, and a minimal number of required campus visits. Preceptorships are usually completed locally to the student.
The NPSchools.com team compiled a complete list of online PNP programs for the 2023-2024 academic year and ranked them by an AdvanceU score that combines cost, admissions flexibility, and program variety.
Our database contains entries for 1,035 online NP programs at the MSN, DNP, and post-master’s certificate levels, including PNP-PC, PNP-AC, and dual PNP-PC/PNP-AC programs. To qualify for inclusion in the NPSchools.com rankings below, a PNP program must require no more than nine campus visits in total.
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Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Career and Salary
The nurse practitioner occupation is growing much faster than average, with employment expected to increase 45 percent between 2022 and 2032 (BLS 2022). By comparison, the expected growth for all occupations is 3 percent.
Aspiring pediatric nurse practitioners must earn a master of science in nursing (MSN), doctor of nursing practice (DNP), or post-master’s certificate (PMC) with a PNP-AC or PNP-PC specialization.