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What Is Pediatric Primary Care Nursing?

Do you enjoy working with newborns, infants, toddlers, adolescents or young adults? If so, you might want to consider a career as a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP). PNPs often specialize in acute care (PNP-AC) or primary care (PNP-PC). Acute care PNPs focus on acute, complex, critical, disability or injury conditions. In contrast, primary care PNPs concentrate on health promotion, disease prevention and minor episodic or chronic health problems.

What Does a PNP-PC Do?

PNP-PCs provide ongoing care for children throughout their development and into young adulthood, with some practices seeing patients until they are about 21 years old. They are responsible for providing comprehensive care at an advanced practice level to children and their families through assessment, clinical management, education and collaboration. Services often include wellness visits, immunizations and treatment for injuries and illnesses (both episodic and chronic).

An NP who specializes in pediatrics needs to be gifted in working with children and adults. Young children may not realize what is happening with their bodies, so clear and simple communication is vital to help them understand and ease anxiety. As they age, they will need education about self-care and healthy lifestyle choices.

PNPs must also listen to and acknowledge parents’ concerns about their child’s health. They need to approach parents respectfully as, ultimately, a child’s health depends on providers’ trust, understanding and adherence. Educating parents is a crucial NP role for child safety and health as well as the effects of illness on a child’s growth and development. Parent education often includes nutrition, developmental milestones, signs of common childhood illnesses, vaccines, in-home and sports safety, medical management and more.

Where Does a PNP-PC Work?

While PNP-ACs work primarily in inpatient facilities, PNP-PCs work in various settings depending on their interests and the community’s needs. Typical sectors and settings for PNP-PCs include:

  • Private or group pediatric practices
  • Outpatient pediatric clinics
  • Health departments
  • Community health centers
  • Urgent care
  • Telehealth services
  • Home health
  • Military children’s health centers
  • Schools/educational settings
  • Juvenile detention centers

While many PNP-PCs work alongside a physician, 23 states and the District of Columbia allow nurse practitioners to practice independently. Some may work in a nurse-run clinic or home care agency. Wherever they practice, PNPs advocate for their patients and ensure their families are informed on best health practices for their children.

What Qualifications Do PNP-PCs Need?

To become a PNP-PC, you must hold an RN license, a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and one or more of the following:

  • master of science in nursing (MSN) degree
  • doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree
  • post-masters certificate in pediatric primary care nursing

Additionally, you must complete a minimum of 500 direct care clinical hours and pass an examination from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. PNPs also possess strong verbal, written communication, interpersonal, problem solving, critical thinking and computer software skills to care for young patients and their families.

What Is the Salary and Job Outlook?

PNPs earn an average of $117,819 per year, according to May 2021 data from The exact salary will depend on location, experience and employment setting. In addition to health and retirement benefits, some positions offer additional bonuses such as loan forgiveness and insurance for malpractice or professional liability. Many NPs are included in on-call rotation schedules as part of their salary, while others receive separate on-call pay

While not broken down by specialty, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 52% increase in employment for NPs between 2019-2029, which is much faster than the national average. As experienced NPs retire and the Baby Boomer population ages, new, trained NPs will need to fill the gap. With a higher number of children developing chronic health problems, pediatric nurses are in high demand, particularly PNPs.

For children, PNP-PCs are often the first healthcare professional they encounter. As such, PNP-PCs are responsible for establishing good communication since their relationship with patients could influence a child’s lifetime view of healthcare. Working with young patients can be both challenging and rewarding with a great deal of autonomy and critical thinking. PNP-PCs can help guide patients and parents through the transition from childhood to adulthood.  

Learn more about The University of Texas at Arlington’s online MSN in Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PNP-PC) online program.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Nursing Shortage

American Association of Nurse Practitioners: Are You Considering a Career as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?

American Association of Nurse Practitioners: State Practice Environment

Herzing University: 5 Soft Skills that Nurse Practitioners Use Every Day

Indeed: How Much Does a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Make in the United States? Career Guide Series: Pediatric NP

Online FNP Programs: Guide to Advanced Practice Pediatric Primary Care Nursing

Pediatric Nursing Certification Board:
CPNP-PC Exam Eligibility
The Primary Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-PC)

Registered The Future of Nursing: Growing Need for Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners

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