Becoming a PNP requires advanced training in the form of a master’s or a doctorate degree in the field, which can be a real barrier for working professionals. Fortunately, quality online degree programs for PNPs exist, providing substantial flexibility to students as they begin their training. To help you find the right opportunity, we’ve researched and showcased the top online PNP programs for 2019. We considered affordability, curriculum, flexibility of study, and accreditation. Begin with detailed profiles of three great programs to better help you visualize the education path ahead of you. See which programs stand above the rest.
Finding the Online PNP Program that Works for You
Every online PNP program is different, each with its own unique style, content emphasis, and student expectations. So, how do you know which program is the right one for you? Start by determining your own educational needs and career priorities. Then, carefully examine each program’s features, both in terms of content (degree levels offered, subjects emphasized, specializations available, etc.) and delivery (course format, in-person and practicum requirements, program length, cost, etc.). Once you’ve narrowed your list of potential programs, it’s a good idea to speak with counselors, faculty members, and (if possible) students at each school, to get a complete picture of what to expect.
How Online PNP Programs Work
Types of Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Degrees Offered Online
Understanding the Online PNP Curriculum
PNP degree program curriculums typically consist of two basic components: didactic coursework (case-based learning commonly presented through lectures and writings) and practical training (in-person, with hands-on active participation by students, including a substantial clinical experience requirement). First-year MSN students can expect to focus on a core curriculum for nurse practitioners geared toward the development of pediatric care knowledge, while second-year study will introduce courses covering a range of pediatric-specific topics. Below is a small sample of the types of courses PNP students can expect to encounter in their degree programs:
Analysis of pathophysiologic processes and their effects on individual and multiple body systems through an examination of classic and current research findings. Students are given a foundation for the clinical assessment, diagnosis, and management of patients experiencing alterations or the risks factors in the status of their health.
Advanced Pediatric Primary Care Preceptorship
Clinical practicum focusing on the role of the nurse practitioner in the delivery of primary care to pediatric patients. An emphasis is placed on providing comprehensive care in collaboration with other healthcare professionals to pediatric clients and their families in a range of practice settings.
Leading Collaborative Change: Improving Delivery of Healthcare to Patients and Populations
Development of leadership skills within the interprofessional team environment to resolve practice issues and improve the delivery of care. Students address the Institute of Healthcare Improvement’s six aims for healthcare quality by planning evidence-based solutions. Prepares students to become advocates on the institutional, state, and federal levels for improved health of populations.
Health Assessment and Measurement: Pediatric Variation
Comprehensive, intensive introduction to history taking and advanced physical assessment of the pediatric patient in the primary care setting. Areas of emphasis include documentation of data, recognition of common health problems, differentiation between abnormal and normal findings, and the critical thinking process related to examining child health problems.
Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Survey of current research, theories, and issues related to health promotion and disease prevention for individuals, families, aggregates, and communities through the use of case studies. An emphasis is placed on the role of the nurse in risk assessment, screening, education, and counseling, as well as thinking broadly about health preservation from an ecological perspective.
Human and Family Development through the Lifespan
Overview of the research, theories, and concepts related to human development from the prenatal period to death. Research and theories concerning family development throughout the lifespan are additionally examined. Included are examinations of the strategies for intervening with family and individuals, and the related tools for assessing the development and functioning of those families and individuals.
Advanced Pediatric and Neonatal Pharmacology
Inquiry into the use of pharmacological agents in the care of infants, and through early childhood and adolescence. Topics covered include pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, drug use in disease prevention, drug monitoring, drug safety in the home, proper prescribing and record keeping, the use of natural and herbal remedies, and more.
Examination of the assessment, pathophysiology, differential diagnosis, and management of urgent and emergent care of the pediatric patient. An emphasis is placed on the integration and education of the family as it relates to the acute needs of the patient, as well as an understanding of the importance of continuity of care with the primary care provider.
Pediatric Primary Care Nursing I: Didactic
Focus on the providing of primary care to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in order that they meet their optimal emotional, intellectual, and physical growth and development. Emphasis is placed on illness prevention, health promotion, and the treatment of episodic problems.
Consider a Subspecialty
Knowledge and skills focused on a particular area of practice can greatly enhance the value of any professional’s services, enhance your marketability, and may qualify you to obtain a corresponding professional certification. The availability of subspecialties should be an important factor in your choice of a PNP degree program. Most schools offer several subspecialty options for NPs, but be advised not all subspecialties are available specifically to PNP students specifically. Therefore, if you plan on pursuing a particular subspecialty with your PNP degree, be certain that it is available with the degree programs you’re considering.
Below are three of the subspecialties most commonly pursued by PNP students:
National PNP Certification
After completing their graduate or post-graduate degree, most PNPs seek a national certification, as most states require national certification as a prerequisite for state licensure. The role of such certification is to recognize and validate the knowledge and skills attained by certification holders while earning their PNP degrees and completing additional area-focused practice, as well as by passing the certification exam. Until recently, there were two associations offering national PNP certification: the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the Pediatric Nurse Certification Board (PNCB). However, the ANCC is now in the process of phasing out its Pediatric Primary Care Nursing Certification, leaving the PNCB as the only current association offering PNP certification.
There are two types of PNP certification available from the PNCB:
Mental and Behavioral Health Certifications for PNPs
Primary care PNPs are eligible to apply for the Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS) credential, also offered by the PNCB. The PMHS credential recognizes and validates the additional knowledge and skills of the certification holder in the care of children and adolescents with mental and behavioral health concerns. Receiving the credential requires taking and passing the PMHS exam. Requirements for taking the exam include a master’s or doctoral primary care PNP degree, current APRN PNP certification, 2,000 hours of clinical practice experience in pediatric developmental, behavioral and mental health, and completion of either one graduate-level DMBH course or 30 hours of DMBH continuing education within the past three years.
Funding Your Online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program
Earning a college degree is expensive. Fortunately, PNP degree students have a range of financial aid options to help pay for their educations, including scholarships, grants, and student loans. For more information on strategies and resources for obtaining financial aid for your PNP degree, check out EduMed’s Pay Less for Education: How to Take Charge of Your Financial Aid webpage.
Here are two organizations that sponsor scholarships specifically aimed at PNP degree students:
Helpful PNP Resources
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) – Resources for Students: A clearinghouse of information and resources for nursing students, including its Graduate Nursing School Academy, which provides a range of programs, services, and resources for graduate students enrolled in AACN-member nursing schools.
- American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP): The website for the 96,000-member national organization, including an excellent Student Resources page.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) – Occupational Outlook Handbook: This is the BLS information site for nurse practitioners, which includes data on pay, job outlook, work environment, and much more.
- National Association of Pediatric Nurses (NAPNAP): This is a great resource for education, advocacy, and networking for PNPs.