This year the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners is holding an annual conference during this week’s National Nurse Practitioners Week. It’s a good time to examine where this segment of nursing is going and how far it has come over the years.

A career in pediatric nursing is always changing. As a pediatric nurse practitioner, you’ll treat ages from newborns up to late teens and early adults. Their care needs are varied and extensive because everything from their size to their cognitive capabilities to their emotional needs are vast.

Treatments for aggressive childhood diseases like cancer have advanced greatly. As more children are surviving and thriving longer, pediatric nurse practitioners (PNP) are seeing how children manage any lingering emotional and physical impacts of their conditions. But PNPs also care for children who are well to keep them healthy and free from preventable disease and injury.

PNPs need to remain current on all the medical needs of children in their care, while also being aware of their emotional development. These advanced practice nurses are able to diagnose everything from an ear infection to more serious diseases and illnesses. They are able to prescribe treatment plans that include medications, follow ups, and additional therapies.

And PNPs do not just care for the child as they often are advising parents, guardians, and caregivers of these children. They offer care, give guidance, and advocate for the child in all situations.

Celebrating pediatric nurse practitioners helps acknowledge the variations in this area of nursing while also giving thanks for the care they give to the future. Children who are able to grow up with good health have advantages. Imparting the importance of good nutrition, exercise, sleep, immunizations, good mental health care, and safety issues helps a child grow up on a good track for growth and development. Through well-child visits, PNPs can perform developmental screenings, learn about any areas of concern, and provide education and guidance if additional health tests are needed.

Caring for young patients is different than caring for adults and the physical and emotional issues they face. Because of that discrepancy, some PNPs also perform research to advance the knowledge and know-how to help children.

However they choose to contribute their skills to the care of children and young adults, pediatric nurse practitioners are admired.

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Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts.
Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

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