Pediatric nurse practitioners are nurses who have gained a higher qualification in order to care for pediatric patients. To work with children and be able to diagnose health conditions, there are many skills and certain qualifications you must hold. If you are considering advancing your nursing career path and becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner, here are the key skills and qualifications needed.
What is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?
Pediatric nurse practitioners are nurses who have gained a degree to become a nurse practitioner and have chosen to specialize in the pediatric population. Nurse practitioners are there to fill a role that is desperately needed in communities and act much like a doctor would. Pediatric nurse practitioners can diagnose illnesses and health conditions in their patients, as well as prescribe medications (in most states).
Pediatric nurse practitioners are there to give health advice and help pediatric patients and their families to manage health conditions, or prevent them. As a pediatric nurse practitioner, you may also complete developmental screenings, childhood immunization clinics, and physicals at school.
The Skills You Will Need:
To work with children in any setting, there are some key skills you will need. Below we look at some of the main skills needed.
1. Care and Compassion
All nurses, no matter what field they work in, need to have care and compassion. Pediatric patients especially may not understand what exactly their illness entails and having a long-term or terminal illness as a child can be daunting. You won’t just be dealing with pediatric patients either.
You will get to know their families if you work in a clinic or private healthcare setting. This means being there not just for the child, but for their parents too. Having a child diagnosed with a chronic illness is a terrifying time for a parent and if you can show care and compassion, you can help to put parents’ minds at ease.
2. Emotional Resilience
Working with any age group is not easy, but as a nurse practitioner, you may have to care for kids that are terminally ill, or have been abused. This requires a certain level of emotional resilience, as you must be able to stay caring and compassionate, without letting your personal feelings get involved.
Caring for kids can be more difficult, especially if you have your own and can resonate with parents. Emotional resilience allows you to build a rapport with your patient and their family, without taking too much of that stress home with you. If you are struggling at home after seeing something difficult, make sure to talk to someone.
3. Communication Skills
Talking to children in a healthcare setting requires good communication skills. Not only do you have to get them to comply with medical tests that can seem absolutely terrifying in their eyes, you may also need to explain medical jargon.
Being able to talk with children of all ages will bring a sense of trust and rapport with your pediatric patients. Remember, children want honesty just as much as adults do. If you are offering health advice in schools, you want to be able to captivate the children, so having good communication and presentation skills is essential.
Watching children go through any illness requires a lot of empathy. While you still need to be able to put up that professional barrier, this does not mean you cannot empathize with a child and their family. Empathy shows that you care and want to help your patients and families.
It can also help to put yourself in their shoes, to understand what kind of things they might want to know about an illness or what kind of things they may be worried about. For example, when children are diagnosed with an illness, many parents worry about how to afford treatment.
5. Good Judgement
Pediatric nurse practitioners may diagnose illnesses without the help of another healthcare practitioner, meaning they must have good judgement. As pediatric patients can also be vulnerable, you must have a keen eye and the ability to look for any safeguarding concerns.
This means being able to use your own judgement to see how a child acts around a parent and using your own clinical skills to understand whether a child is at risk of neglect or abuse.
Pediatric nurse practitioners must have confidence in their abilities. Working alone if you haven’t done so before can be daunting and if you don’t have the confidence, how can your patients hold confidence in you? Confidence will often come with time and a good pediatric nurse practitioner course will teach you everything you need to know to become the best nurse practitioner.
Don’t jump into the course until you feel ready. If it helps, begin researching before the course to put your knowledge to the test. You may be surprised by how much you have picked up in your experience in nursing so far.
What Qualifications Will I Need?
If being a pediatric nurse practitioner sounds like the dream role for you, you need to get a master’s degree, or a doctor of nursing practice. Baylor University’s pediatric nurse practitioner programs are online, meaning you can study no matter what state you are in. You must have a bachelors in nursing first, or you can apply post-masters. To be eligible, you must have a 3.0 GPA and at least one years’ experience working full-time as a nurse.
If you are completing a pediatric course, you should have that experience in a pediatric setting, or have done additional work experience working with children in a healthcare setting. As well as studying, you will take part in clinical placements, where you will work in a variety of pediatric healthcare settings to gain invaluable experience before you qualify.
Pediatric nurse practitioners need skills such as empathy, good judgement, and emotional resilience. If you think you have what it takes to become a pediatric nurse practitioner, you will have the skills to work in many settings, as well as job security, a good wage, and job satisfaction helping children and their families.