Pediatric Nurse Practitioners vs. Pediatricians: How Do They Compare? 

pediatricians vs pediatric nurse practitioners

Pediatricians and Pediatric Nurse Practitioners specialize in caring for children from infancy throughout adolescence. While these healthcare professionals both care for children, there are different education requirements and scopes of practice involved. In this article we’ll take a look at some of the key similarities and differences between pediatricians and pediatric nurse practitioners.  

What is the role of a Pediatrician? 

A pediatrician is a physician whose specialty is caring for children from infancy until they reach the age of 18. Pediatricians diagnosis illnesses, perform physical exams, and ensure children are meeting developmental milestones. A pediatrician directs patient care, and may perform major surgery, prescribe medications and order diagnostic tests. 

What is the role of a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?  

A pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) is an advanced practice registered nurse who cares for patients ranging from newborns to young adults. PNPs can perform most standard childcare services, in addition to the treatment of common pediatric illnesses. These healthcare professionals can be found in a number of settings, including hospitals and specialty clinics. PNPs provide nursing care, however, there are restrictions in many states regarding what medications an NP can prescribe. 

What is the difference between a Pediatrician and a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?  

While pediatricians and PNPs both care for children, there are differences between these roles. In regard to scope of practice, a physician’s focus is on treatment, while a nurse’s focus is on patient care aspects such as comfort and daily management. 

Another key difference is the length of education required to practice. On average, a pediatrician will spend 3 years longer in school than a PNP will. Although physicians and nurses may study the same subjects, physicians tend to study these subjects in greater depth.  

What educational requirements are there for Pediatricians? 

Pediatricians begin their education in undergraduate education before entering medical school. A graduate physician must spend a minimum of four years in a residency program after medical school. Pediatricians must be licensed to practice in all 50 states. While board certification in pediatrics is optional, many employers and insurance companies require certification. Pediatrics CME is also required to maintain certification, and pediatricians must recertify every five years.  

What educational requirements are there for Pediatric Nurse Practitioners? 

PNPs must have at minimum a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) to practice. Before being able to practice as a registered NP, PNPs must also complete an advanced degree program in nursing and pass a certification exam given by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. The CPNP-PC exam certifies graduates of primary care pediatric nurse practitioner programs and evaluates the candidate’s knowledge of the Primary Care CPNP role. 

Whether your goal is to become a pediatrician or a pediatric nurse practitioner, BoardVitals has the resources you need to pass your certification exams. Sign up for a free trial today and pass your exam, guaranteed. 

  • Our Pediatrics question bank contains more than 1,750 board prep questions formatted to the exam content outline for the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) General Pediatrics Certifying Exam and the General Pediatrics ITE exam. 
  • The Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner question bank contains more than 1,250 practice questions that follow the exam content outline for the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) Primary Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-PC) Exam 
  • Our free eBook, Becoming a Nurse Practitioner: The Complete Guide, is your guide for surviving NP school. From applying to NP school to passing your certification exams, get answers to all of your questions on your journey to becoming an NP.
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