Welcome to our comprehensive Pediatric Nurse Practitioner vs. Pediatrician guide.
This guide compares the two professions by discussing their differences and similarities.
Furthermore, we look at what to consider when deciding whether to become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) or Pediatrician.
After reading this guide, you’ll understand the contrasts and similarities between PNPs and Pediatricians.
In summary, this guide covers:
Let’s get straight into it!
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner vs. Pediatrician – The Differences
With Pediatricians and Pediatric Nurse Practitioners providing care to children from infants to adolescents, many people may use the job titles interchangeably.
However, several differences exist between Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and Pediatricians, such as the education they are required to complete or the job duties they assume.
This guide compares factors like education, salary, and certification to understand how different these two careers are.
Keep reading to learn more:
In some states, Pediatric Nurse Practitioners are allowed to function independently and perform duties similar to those of Pediatricians.
However, in many states, Pediatric Nurse Practitioners still work under the supervision of Pediatricians.
In the states where PNPs have a restricted scope of practice (like California), the PNP job scope looks very different from that of a Pediatrician.
We discuss the PNP and Pediatrician job duties below to highlight this difference.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
A Pediatric Nurse Practitioner specializes in providing health care to children, from birth to young adults.
They receive training to identify healthcare risks in children and perform medical duties that help support their journey to recovery.
With their roles being all-rounded, they are usually also there to educate both parents and children about a child’s condition and provide emotional support for families.
When given the authorization to function independently, their job duties include:
- Assess and diagnose patients
- Treat patients without the supervision of a Pediatrician
- Coordinate patient’s care plan
- Educate and counsel patients and their families
- Startup their practices caring for children
However, when they are regulated or restricted, their job duties include:
- Diagnose, Treat patients, and prescribe medication, all under a Pediatrician or Physician’s supervision
- Educate and counsel patients and their families
A Pediatrician is a Physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating illnesses in children.
In addition to diagnosis and treatment, their medical school background enables them to detect, manage and prevent developmental and behavioral disorders in children.
Their other job duties include:
- Perform well-child routines
- Administer physical examinations
- Monitor a child’s development
- Diagnose, treat illnesses, and prescribe medication
- Give vaccinations
- Offer health advice and educate patients and parents on their children’s conditions
As established, the job scope of Pediatricians and PNPs can be pretty different.
Aside from the difference in the job scope, there are also differences in the type of education each professional undergoes before starting work.
There has been a longstanding debate concerning whether PNPs’ can take on Pediatricians’ functions because of their different education programs.
To understand the vast differences in the education that both PNPs and Pediatricians must undergo, here is a look at the education that each must acquire before assuming a role.
Becoming a Pediatric NP requires candidates to:
- Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
- Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam and become a Registered Nurse
- Obtain experience, preferably in Pediatrics
- Earn an Advanced Practice Nurses degree such as a Master’s degree in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
- Take and pass a Pediatric-related certification exam
Becoming a Pediatrician requires candidates to:
- Earn a medicine-related Bachelor’s degree
- Pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
- Complete a four-year-long medical school program
- Complete an Internship program
- Obtain a Physician Licensure
In addition to a difference in the educational programs each must undergo, Pediatricians spend considerably more time obtaining qualifications to begin work than Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.
Obtaining certification for Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and Pediatricians is a voluntary task; however, obtaining certification is crucial if you want to expand your knowledge or hone a specialty.
Pediatricians who seek certification go through a three-year training program that focuses on Pediatrics.
Upon completion of the program, Pediatricians can sit in for a certifying examination administered by The American Board of Pediatrics, and once they pass, they are known as board-certified.
Concerning PNPs, to develop expertise in a specialty or even be eligible for Licensure in some states, they may obtain certification.
More than ten specialization certificate options are available to PNPs, with their examinations administered by either the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) or The American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC).
Another significant difference between Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and Pediatricians is the salary each takes home at the end of the month.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Pediatricians earn an average annual salary of $198 420, which is great money.
On the other hand, Pediatric Nurse Practitioners make $118 040, which is also quite good money but is significantly lower than Pediatricians.
While there isn’t a set reason as to why both professions earn what they do, in the case of Pediatricians, it’s commonly said that due to the extensive education they go through and the cost thereof, they are well compensated when they finally begin working.
Similarities between a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and a Pediatrician
Despite significant differences between Pediatricians and Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, the aim of both practices correlates in many ways.
- Professionals from both professions need to study Pharmacology, Anatomy, Chemistry, and Physiology to have sufficient knowledge of the human body
- Pediatricians and PNPs both have to adhere to a scope of practice
- Both professions require excellent communication skills and empathy to treat children effectively
- Both Pediatricians and Pediatric Nurse Practitioners provide emotional support to families
- Both professionals need to report child endangerment when they see it
Now that you understand the differences and similarities between Pediatricians and PNPs, let’s explore what you need to consider when choosing to pursue one career over the other in the next section.
Choosing between becoming a Pediatric NP or a Pediatrician: What to consider?
Due to the two professions sharing similar aims in that both provide acute or primary care to children, deciding whether to become a Pediatric NP or a Pediatrician may not be as straightforward as you may think.
Hence before you choose to pursue either, here are a few things to think about first:
Regardless of which profession you choose to pursue, there will always be the need to allocate time to get the necessary education and training.
However, fulfilling some careers’ prerequisites takes longer than others, and your decision to pursue a job can depend on how much time you have available.
That said, becoming a Pediatric NP takes about six years, while becoming a Pediatrician could take up to 12 years.
Hence, if 12 years doesn’t seem like the kind of time you’d have to invest in pursuing a career, then becoming a PNP might be the ideal option for you.
As you consider which careers to choose, think about your career goals and what you want to accomplish through your job in the future.
Do you see yourself providing child health care in your practice in the future, or would you like to be regarded as a Medical Doctor one day?
Your answers to such career goal questions will help you determine which credential is best suited to helping you achieve your goals.
While pursuing both professions does cost a pretty penny, as mentioned earlier in this article, becoming a Pediatrician cost extensively higher than becoming a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.
However, consider that once you finally complete your education and attain a job, a Pediatrician will be compensated much higher than a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.
Whatever you’re willing to lose or gain will help you determine which career to pursue.
Pediatricians and Pediatric NPs are healthcare professionals who provide medical care to children.
From a glance, they may look like the same profession; however, several differences exist between them.
Knowing the differences can be the lifeline between picking the right job to pursue or landing in a profession that doesn’t help you meet your career goals.
Hence, we hope that by reading this guide, you better understand the differences between the two jobs – enough to make an informed decision about a possible career choice or simply whom to visit when in need of child care.