Becoming an ACNP in Pediatrics

How Do I become an AC PNP in Pediatrics?

Click for information on AC PNP programs at Rush and UCSF

I was hoping to get more information about becoming an Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. I am planning on either entering an entry level masters program to obtain my NP license in ACNP Pediatrics or a CRNA license. I am even debating going to PA school. But I don't know what would be better for me. I obviously want to make a comfortable living but I also want job satisfaction. I don't want to have to relocate to remote areas as I am not used to that kind of lifestyle. What would be a better course of action for me?

Are there more jobs out there for Nurse Practitioners rather than Physician Assistants?
No, sometimes the jobs are interchangeable but not usually. There are a lot of PNP jobs available, but it does help to be flexible in where you want to live.

My interests lie specifically in pediatrics/cardiology/sports medicine/trauma care. Who makes more money (entry level and potential growth)?
In Pediatric Cardiology there are a number of jobs. Many pediatric heart programs are growing at this time. I do not know the level of need in sports medicine, and I do not see a demand in pediatrics. Trauma care is another growing area in pediatrics. In the ER, the way PNP's are being used is changing which will increase the number of PNP's needed in the ER. Hospitals are beginning to use them in lower acuity and triaging ER patients. PA's have a stronger foothold in the ER's at this time, but that is changing monthly. The salaries are comparable to PNP's. The range for new PNP's in specialty care with 3-4 years RN experience is $65,000-over $100,000 depending on the location and hospital. If you work at a hospital, then you generally get annual increases of 3-5%. If you work in primary care that is not usually the case. Sometimes there is the option of productivity bonuses.

Who do physicians prefer to hire?
I believe that there are more PNP jobs available, but that is more of a guess based on experience. The physicians do not always hire the PNP's. Many times the hospitals do. PA's do not have prescriptive authority in all states.

What is the job prospect like for individuals like me who enter these entry level masters programs to become an NP to work in Pediatric Acute Care?
If you have worked as an RN in acute care, ie. the ICU, ER, OR, trauma, or Surgery, for about 3-4 years (this can include while you are in the PNP program which is what I recommend even if it takes a little longer) and you get your Acute Care Certification, (this is true without the certification depending on the state, but if you do not get it when you become a PNP, I would get it afterwards) there are incredible opportunities available with great pay potential.

Is it hard finding a job as an NP rather than an RN after completing these programs?
There are more RN jobs in more locations so it is a relative question. If you are willing to move where the jobs are, ie. cities where there are children's hospitals, http://pediatric-nurse-practitioners.blogspot.com/2008/08/alabama-childrens-hospital-of-alabama.html, there are a number of great opportunities available.
Is it possible to get a CRNA license first, then go back and get an NP degree to have the best of both worlds? (Salary as well as patient contact and care?)
Yes, that is ideal. If you work for 2-3 years as an RN in the specialty area you want to work as a PNP, and then you start your program and continue working part-time, you will be a great candidate for possible jobs. Most of the time, salary is based on experience and specialty. RN experience can be counted as either 2 RN years equals 1 PNP year or sometimes 1 for 1 to determine your salary. If you want to work as a critical care PNP, I do not recommend working in the NICU if you are going to be a PNP. If you want to work in the NICU you should become an NNP. I would suggest working in PICU, CICU (cardiac), Med-Surg, ER or Trauma to build your experience in critical care. When you are working as an RN, become involved in ACCN to make connections and learn as much as possible.

What are some of the best pediatric Acute Care Programs out there for students in my position?
Depending on your situation you have a couple of options. Attend a PNP program that does not include the Acute Care Certification (if that works better for your personal life), and then start your career in critical care as a PNP if you have the critical care RN experience, (but not in Texas or Arizona because they require the Acute Care Certification). Then I would suggest taking one of the online programs such as Rush Children's or UCSF and get your Post Masters Certification or attend one of the Acute Care Programs concurrently with your PNP program. I am not familiar with the pluses and minuses of all the programs. I think that most of them are very good. Professors in nursing programs work very hard to create the best program possible and most of them have extensive experience. I would also consider the costs very carefully. That is another reason why working while you are in school is a good idea. I would consider working at hospitals that help pay for your education.
When I submit candidates, the biggest influence on whether they get an interview and offer is their experience either RN or PNP.

I would appreciate any other information you can give me! Thanks.

I think that you are on the right track. Your options for where you live and can work as a PNP in the long run depend on what you want. If you want to work in specialty care at a Children's Hospital, you are dependent on the Children's Hospital locations. New children's hospitals crop up regularly and hospitals add children's hospital components to create a hospital within a hospital.

If you want primary care, then you can work in any location and in cities of all sizes. You can either set up your own business, depending on the state, or work for a pediatric office. Some physicians in some states are more in-tune with the benefits (both financial and scheduling) to hiring PNP's versus others. You also need to evaluate the business savvy, benefits, scheduling and personalities of the pediatric office to determine if it is a good place to work or not.

Questions asked by a college student contemplating a nursing and advanced practice career.

Warm Regards,
Jill Gilliland

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Jill Gilliland

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