A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) salary is typically the highest among advanced practice nurses, with an average salary of $143,521 per year. Several factors contribute to CRNA salary levels. CRNAs are certified to administer all types of anesthesia for all types of surgical, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. The role of the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is highly complex and stressful, requiring close attention to detail, an acute sense of impending potential problems based on the most subtle of signs, and the ability to act quickly in response to those signs. It is not hyperbolic to say that patient’s lives are in the hands of the CRNA. In rural communities, CRNAs are often in independent practice, so are the sole providers of anesthesia care. In addition, there is a level of competition between CRNAs and anesthesiologists, who are among the highest paid physicians.
Employment Outlook for CRNAs
CRNAs are in extremely
high demand, with an employment rate expected to increase by 31% by 2024, a
faster than usual growth rate. Factors influencing this high demand include
recent healthcare legislation, and the aging of the baby boomer generation. With
the aging population, there is a related increase in chronic disease requiring
diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical intervention. More procedures are being
performed in ambulatory surgery centers, and in physician offices, which also
increases the need for anesthesia care. Expansion of insurance coverage has
made procedures more affordable and accessible, again, increasing the need for
CRNAs work in a wide
variety of settings, including hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, pain
management centers, dental practices, and plastic surgery practices. CNRAs are
able to practice without physician supervision, and practice independently in
many rural or lower population hospital settings. They are the major providers
of anesthesia in the Armed Forces, as well. Industries with the highest level
of employment of CRNAs include;
Outpatient/ambulatory care centers,
Colleges, universities and professional
Federal Executive Branch (federal, state,
and local government) entities.
States with the highest
employment rate for CRNAs include;
CRNAs are the highest paid among Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN); Payscale.com quotes a median annual salary range of $105,400 to $252,460 for CRNAs, with an average annual salary of $143,521. Potential salary may be greater, dependent on state and city of residence, years of experience, and the organizational structure of the employing agency.
Table 1: CRNA Salary; National and Top Ten States
Average Hourly Pay
Table 2: Top paying industries for CRNAs
Average Annual Salary
Outpatient/Ambulatory Care Centers
Specialty Hospitals (except psych and substance abuse)
Federal Executive Branch (federal, state and local government)
Table3: CRNA Salary
Compared with Other Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN)
Before getting into the difference between a Nurse Practitioner (NP) and Physician’s Assistant (PA), we should probably define the general healthcare provider category that they fall into. NPs and PAs are what we call midlevel providers. This means that they are not medical doctors but have some additional privileges and responsibilities in comparison to nurses. Midlevel providers see patients for routine exams, sick visits, round on patients in hospitals, prescribe medications, order labwork and imaging, and do minor procedures. Midlevel providers have at minimum a master’s degree and earn their degrees after 2-3 years of studying. Both NPs and PAs make competitive and similar salaries. They also have similar job descriptions in their given clinical settings. However, there are some key differences between NPs and PAs that we will cover here.
What is a Nurse Practitioner?
Earning your MSN will prepare you to practice nursing at the advanced level by enhancing your assessments, diagnostic, and treating skills. You will have training in using evidence based methods to provide care which will directly impact patient outcomes. With your MSN you will naturally become a leader in the nursing field. You will be equipped to make positive changes in the healthcare system that will benefit the nursing profession and the patients that you serve. RN to MSN programs take your nurse training to the next level. You will delve further into effective treatment methods, making bigger system changes, and impacting patients, families, and populations as a whole. You will play a vital role in improving patient care, enhancing safety, and positively impacting healthcare on a global level. You will have the flexibility and knowledge to shift the way you practice nursing if you desire. You can transition to a more research focused role, business role, or education role if you desire. This will enable you to stay engaged and be a life-long learner as you progress through your nursing career. If that isn’t enough of reason to get your MSN, master’s prepared nursing also earn higher salaries.
What is a Physician’s Assistant?
A PA is a midlevel provider who has master’s degree and like an NP has completed a certain number of clinical hours during their program. Unlike many NP programs most PA programs require you to have around 1000 hours of some type of clinical healthcare experience to even enroll in the program. PA’s work as a part of a healthcare team to deliver care to patients in a variety of settings. Physician’s assistants can work in primary care, acute care, operating rooms, specialty practices and more. They can also work with people of all ages depending on their training and experience. PAs like NPs can assess, diagnose, and treat patients through writing prescriptions.
What are the Key Differences?
Population focus: While NPs need to choose a population focus when they enroll in their program, PAs do not. They are trained across multiple ages and disciplines. This gives them a bit more flexibility later in their careers where they can change populations or specialties that they work in. NPs can also change their clinical focus, but they cannot change populations without re-certifying. For example: a, Adult Gerontology NP cannot work with children.
Supervising physicians: Most states require that PAs have a practice agreement with a physician where they work. For NPs this depends on the state. In some states NPs can have their own practice while this is not an option for PAs.
Program length: In general PA programs take about 3 years. NP programs are typically 2 years in length though some may be 3. A lot of this depends on if you enroll full-time or part-time, and what type of NP program you are doing.
Prior clinical experience: PA schools typically require that you have a minimum of 1000 hours of prior clinical experience. Whether this is through prior EMT work, nursing, or other clinical fields it does not matter as long as it involves direct care. NP schools do not necessarily require previous clinical experience.
Transitional programs: Because all prospective PAs are required to have a Bachelor’s degree, there are no “Direct Entry” options or transitional programs for RNs without BSNs.
More clinical hours: PA programs require around 2000 hours of hands on supervised clinical experience during the 3 year program. NP school requirements are less. Part of this is because many NPs also have experience as nurses, and part of this is because NPs do not do rotations in surgical specialties.
Different education models: PA school is modeled after the medical school curriculum while NP school is more nursing focused and holistic in nature.
Certification and Licensure: Since the two professional roles are regulated by different professional bodies, there will be differences in certification and licensure. NPs need to be an Registered Nurse (RN) first, and take their certification exams through their certifying body. Then they must apply for licensure through the Board of Nursing in their state. When PAs finish school they take the Physician’s Assistant National Certifying Exam. Then to become licensed they need to apply through the appropriate board in their state. This is usually a medical board or PA specific board.
Prospective Salary and Job Growth
Both NPs and PAs earn competitive and similar salaries. For both types of practitioners salaries can depend on location of work, specialty, and years of experience. PAs may have the potential to earn more than NPs if they are able to work in surgical roles that NPs would not be qualified for. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics (BLS) PAs earn a median salary of $104,860 per year and the profession is expected to grow by 37 percent by 2026. There is no denying that this is a very attractive salary and potential for career growth. The BLS also says that NPs make a median of $103, 880 annually and that the field is expected to grow by 36 percent by 2026. So clearly if salary and job prospects are your main concern there is not much difference between being a PA or NP.
We have already discussed the basic differences between PA and NP school, but what about cost? It is no surprise that education in the US is expensive, and the cost of graduate school may be intimidating to you. Luckily, whether you choose the NP or PA route, you will make a decent salary. Education program costs can be similar for both type of providers. With NP programs, you may find yourself spending a little less due to the programs being shorter than PA school. Additionally, NP preceptors (or the professionals who wills supervise you during your clinical experiences) may be doing so on a voluntary basis. This means that their paycheck will not have to be factored into your tuition. By applying to state schools where you are a resident you can also save some money. Plus with nursing being the booming field that it is, you will have the option to apply for many different scholarships. Here are two examples of NP and PA school cost for you to compare.
For nurses there are also numerous programs available to help you pay their debt. While there are PA scholarships as well and while you could be eligible for some loan repayment programs as a PA, the nursing shortage has given an added incentive for nursing specific programs to be developed. The following programs may be an option for you when you decide to pay off your NP debt.
With the world turning more and more to technology, online programs are becoming a common way for people to pursue higher education. There are many NP programs in the country that are online. This means that from the comfort of your home you can attend classes, complete assignments, have class discussions, and even take some quizzes. These programs offer flexibility to the busy professional trying to juggle all of life’s commitments. For PA school there are similar online options. For both online NP and PA programs you just need to remember that you will still have to complete your hands on clinical hours. This ideally can be arranged in a location near you with some help from your school.
Earn an RN Degree – All Nurse Practitioners (NPs) must first become RNs. Getting your RN through an ADN or BSN program is your first step. Be sure to earn your RN or BSN from a university that is accredited by the ACEN or CCNE. Your credentials are more likely to be accepted by your NP program if you earned your RN from an accredited school. If you need more guidance, check out our BSN guide or our guide to Accelerated BSN programs.
Obtain Licensure – Licensure is done on a state-by-state basis. Contact your state board of nursing (BON) for more information.
Obtain a DEA Number – DEA registration is required in order to prescribe medication.
Maintain Active Certification and Licensure – Your certifying body and BON will tell you what is required to maintain certification and licensure. Usually this requires a certain amount of continuing education (CE) credits as well as clinical practice. You may also have to fill out an application and pay a fee every 2-3 years.
What is a Certified Nurse Practitioner?
A certified nurse practitioner or CNP is a nurse with advanced training who is licensed to provide direct caare to patients. CNPs are a type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). Among the types of APRNs NPs are the most common. Within the population foci listed above, as an CNP you can assess, diagnose, treat, and educate patients. CNPs provide comprehensive holistic patient care. CNPs are also able to diagnose and prescribe medications to patients. The extent of your scope of practice will depend on the state you live in. Some are more strict than others.
As a CNP you are not simply limited to the population foci described. Through hands on experience or structured education you can further specialize. Some areas that you may choose to specialize in include emergency nursing, cardiology, orthopedics, infectious disease and more. That being said, when you enter your MSN or DNP program, you will still be within one of the 6 population foci. After that you can choose to take your training further if you decide.
Where Do Nurse Practitioners Work: You can work in hospitals, primary care offices, private practices, community health centers, universities, colleges, the military, and more.
Educational Pre-requisites for Practitioners: At minimum you will need certain science courses and an RN and/or bachelor’s degree to enter into an NP program. The pre-requisite flexibility is due to the high demand for primary care providers. NPs are a cost effective way to fill this need so the industry is booming. If you have your bachelor’s in a non-nursing field you can become an NP by completing a Direct Entry program. With these programs you have to complete pre-requisite science courses and then you can apply to earn your MSN to become an NP in about 2 years. Typically pre-requisite courses include subjects like anatomy and physiology, microbiology, developmental psychology. Some programs may require clinical experience of some type before you can be accepted, so be sure to research individual program requirements thoroughly.
How to Become a Nurse Practitioner
To become an NP you will need to earn your bachelor’s and your MSN. There are various ways to do this depending on you educational and professional background. Pathways to becoming an NP exist for people with or without RN licensure.
RN to MSN: These programs combine what you have already learned in your associates degree, and your experience as an RN with the pieces you are missing from a bachelors and the MSN program. Typically it takes around 3 years to complete including supervised clinical hours. With these programs you will earn a BSN in the process unless you have been accepted into the program with a bachelors in a non-nursing field while having your RN. If the latter is the case you will just earn your MSN during the program. Either way you will be an NP when you finish.
RN to DNP: These programs prepare you to be an NP at the DNP level. They will take around 4 to 5 years to complete. Often you will need to complete the BSN requirements first along the way and then you work on the DNP portion of the program including obtaining your supervised NP clinical hours.
BSN to MSN: With a BSN you can complete a 2-year master’s in nursing program.
Bachelors to MSN: These programs are commonly referred to as Direct Entry or Accelerated MSN programs. This may be for you if you have a bachelor’s in a non-nursing field and want to work as an NP. Before applying you will have to check your programs pre-requisite requirements and complete some hard science classes like chemistry, anatomy and physiology, biology, and more. These programs take between 2 and 3 years to finish.
BSN to DNP: If you have your BSN and are already an RN you can do a 4 year DNP program and be prepared to work as an NP after.
MSN to DNP: In 2 to 3 years you jump from an MSN to a DNP. This will give you the terminal degree in nursing and prepare you to work as an NP if your MSN program did not cover that.
Certification and Licensure: You will need to get certified in your population foci after graduation. This is a way to prove that you have the knowledge and training to provide advanced care as an NP to your population of patients. Each certifying body offers an exam that you will take. the exam will focus on key concepts your learned in school and ensure that you will be a safe and effective provider. After you are certified you can apply for licensure with your state BON. This often involves a fee, an application, and submitting materials that prove you completed an accredited NP program, are certified, and are an RN. Depending on your certifying body and state you will need to complete a certain number of CEs over the span of 2-3 years to keep your certification and apply for license renewal.
The RNCareers Nurse Practitioner Scholarship
How Long Does it Take to Become a Nurse Practitioner
How much time it takes to become an NP really depends on your background. Depending on the path you take it will be 2 to 4 years of education before you can become a CNP. If you’re already an RN it can take as little as 2 years by earning your MSN. If you are not an RN some direct entry programs are as short as 2 years as well. If you already have your MSN but are not an NP you can do a DNP program in 2-3 years and become and NP while also earning your doctorate.
Here are examples of how long it will take you to become an NP depending on what degree you are starting with:
How Many Years to Become an NP
Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)
Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN)
Bachelor’s in a non-nursing field
2 – 3 years
Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN)
1 – 2 years
Where Do Nurse Practitioner Typically Work?
As an NP the world is at your fingertips. You can work in a variety of settings and will have the flexibility throughout your career to change it up. Here are some examples of where you may work.
Adult Gerontology Acute Care NP: Cardiology, neurology, emergency departments, intensive care units, medical surgical units, military settings, and more
Adult Gerontology Primary Care NP: primary care clinics, nursing homes, correctional facilities, college health, occupational health, military settings, and more
Family NP: Primary care clinics, community health, urgent care, college health, occupational health, military settings, dermatology, shelters, and more.
Neonatal NP: neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), emergency departments, labor and delivery units, and more.
Pediatric Acute Care NP: Emergency departments, specialty units in children’s hospitals, urgent care
Pediatric Primary Care NP: community health centers, schools, children’s hospitals, private practices.
Psychiatric Mental Health NP: outpatient therapy, inpatient psychiatric units, partial hospitalization units, nursing homes, and more.
Women’s Health NP: Community health centers, women’s prisons, private practices, urogynecology practices, adolescent health, and more.
What is a Nurse Practitioner Salary?
As an NP you will earn a competitive salary. Just how much make will depend on your population foci, experience, and setting that you work in. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics NPs earn a median salary of $104,610 annually. If you are in an acute care setting versus primary care you will likely earn a bit more. Additionally while your living costs may be higher, you can expect to make more money living in urban areas in comparison to rural ones. While NP school may be pricey, there are a number of ways to get your education paid for. The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program will pay off a percentage of your student loans over 3 years of working in a medically underserved area. If you have Perkins loans, you may be eligible for Perkins Loan Forgiveness. Additionally, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is another way to get your debt paid off by working in medically underserved communities. As you move through your career you will likely receive raises and additional benefits. Certain states also pay NPs more than others. See our state guides for more information.
Here are the average Salaries for NP specialties across the country:
Average Annual Salary
Adult Gerontology Acute Care
Adult Gerontology Primary Care
Family Nurse Practitioner
Psychiatric Mental Health
Pediatric Acute Care
Pediatric Primary Care
Are there Online Nurse Practitioner Programs
One barrier to people continuing their education often has to do with time commitments and the convenience of the programs available. Fortunately for you, online programs are becoming more advanced and more popular as time goes on. These programs allow you to attend classes, complete coursework and even do class discussions and quizzes from the comfort of your home. You will still need to complete your clinical hours, but your school can help you arrange these in a location convenient for you. Check out our individual NP guides for more info on online programs.
Campus / Online / Hybrid NP Programs Offered by Specialty
Nurse Practitioner Programs
Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
Adult Psychiatric - Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Family Nurse Practitioner
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Women's Health Nurse Practitioner
Nurse Practitioner Programs Offered by Degree Level
Nurse Practitioner Programs
BSN to DNP
MSN to DNP
Post Master's NP Certificate
What is a Typical Nurse Practitioner Curriculum?
Your curriculum will depend on your population foci as well as the school you attend. Regardless of your population foci, all NP students can expect to take the following courses offered at Boston College’s NP programs:
Ethical Issues in Advanced Practice Nursing
Role of Advanced Practice Nurse
Advanced Pharmacology Across the Life Span
Conceptual Basis for Advanced Practice Nursing
Advanced Health Assessment Across the Life Span
Research Methods for Advanced Practice Nursing
Advanced Pathophysiology Across the Life Span
Advanced Specialty Theory I
Advanced Specialty Theory II
Nurse Practitioner Resources and Organizations
Since it is such a popular career path there are multiple resources and organizations available for you to utilize as you gather more information:
What You Will Do: Perform diagnostics, write prescriptions, perform patient exams, order patient lab tests, insert long-acting reversible contraception, advocate for preventative care, provide reproductive and sexual health, teach patients
Where Will You Work: private practices, hospitals, reproductive health clinics, universities, community health clinics, prisons
Employment Projections: From 2016 to 2026 the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) profession is anticipated to increase by 31 percent.
How Much Will I Earn: WHNPs in general make between $85,000 and $110,000.
Number of Programs: 48 universities have WHNP programs in the U.S.
How Long Does It Take to Become an WHNP: With a BSN becoming a WHNP will take around 2 to 3 years. An RN-BSN program or RN to MSN program will take around 2 to 3 years.
Requirements to Become One: You need a bachelor’s degree, an RN license, a master’s in nursing, certification as a Nurse Practitioner, and a license in your state of practice.
Eight Steps to Become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Earn Your RN – Complete an RN program at a university accredited through the CCNE or ACEN. This is important if you want to be fully accepted into your MSN program. See our BSN guide for more information.
Earn Your MSN – You will have courses in reproductive and sexual health, women’s health nursing theory, research, health assessment, disease management, preventative care and more.
Complete Supervised Clinical Hours – You need to complete at least 600 supervised clinical hours during your master’s program.
Become Board Certified – Get certified as a WHNP through the National Certification Corporation (NCC).
Obtain Licensure – Get a Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP) license in the state you want to work in.
Obtain a DEA Number – Obtain DEA registration to prescribe medication.
Maintain Active Certification and Licensure –CE requirements vary from 10 to 50 hours depending on your assessment test results. You must keep active BLS and DEA licenses. Your RN license must stay active in your state.
What is a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner?
WHNPs are a type of Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN) that provide comprehensive direct patient care to women throughout their lifespan. Although specialized in women’s health, WHNPs also provide sexual and reproductive health care to men. Your daily activities include conducting patient interviews and examinations, diagnosing, prescribing medication, referring patients, ordering and interpreting laboratory tests, and providing patient education. As a WHNP you can care for people with chronic and acute conditions, care for adolescents, pregnant women, and the older adult population. WHNPs can work in primary care clinics, or specialty clinics such as breast and gynecologic oncology, urogynecology, fertility clinics, and more.
How Do I Become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner?
You need a bachelor’s degree as well as a master’s in nursing to be a WHNP. There are many ways you can achieve this. Pathways to becoming an NP exist for people with or without RN licensure.
BSN to MSN: With a BSN you can complete a 2-year master’s in nursing program.
Bachelors to MSN: Direct Entry Master’s in Nursing programs exist for people who have a bachelor’s degree in something other than nursing. You will have to complete a certain number of pre-requisite courses in the hard sciences, anatomy and physiology, and psychology in order to enter one of these programs. Direct Entry Master’s programs take 2 to 3 years to complete.
BSN to DNP: For a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) you will have about 4 years of schooling. A DNP is a doctorate degree that will prepare you for applying evidence based research into clinical practice.
MSN to DNP: MSN to DNP programs enable you to get your doctorate in 2 to 3 years.
Certification and Licensure: Becoming certified ensures that you meet the qualifications to care for patients within the women’s health population. The NCC offers the exam that you will take to obtain certification. After you obtain national certification you will take an assessment on the NCC website that will tell how many CEs you must complete before the end of the 3-year maintenance cycle. Required CEs will vary between 10 and 50 hours. Once you are certified you can apply for state licensure. A CNP license is needed to legally practice in a given state. To become licensed you will need to submit transcripts from your WHNP program, proof of RN licensure, proof of NCC certification, and pay a fee.
Where Do WHNPs Typically Work?
There are multiple practice settings where you can work as a WHNP. You can work in community health clinics, university health clinics, correctional facilities, private practices, obstetric and gynecology clinics, fertility clinics, urogynecology, breast and gynecologic oncology clinics and more.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners Salary Expectations?
Your salary will be influenced by the state, city and practice setting where you work, as well as your experience. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nurse practitioners earn a median of $104,610 per year. According to various sources WHNPs can make between $85,500 and $110,000. If you work in an urban area you will likely make more than if you work in a rural area. Likewise, a community health setting will pay less than a private practice, but may offer additional benefits. By working with medically underserved populations you can be eligible for loan forgiveness. The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program is one way that you can get loan forgiveness. If you have a Perkins loan you can also be eligible for Perkins Loan Forgiveness. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is another service you may qualify for if you work in an underserved area. With more experience your salary can increase.
Online WHNP Programs
Online programs have made becoming a WHNP a reality for many busy people. Coursework can be completed online with minimal to no time required on campus. Clinical hours can be arranged close to where you live an in a schedule that is convenient for you.
What is a Typical WHNP Curriculum?
There are certain course that are standard among every WHNP program, but the names of the courses may vary a bit by university. Like what is offered Boston College’s WHNP program course will include:
Ethical Issues in Advanced Practice Nursing
Conceptual Basis for Advanced Practice Nursing
Role of the Advanced Practice Nurse
Advanced Health Assessment
Research Methods for Advanced Practice Nursing
Women’s Health Advanced Practice Nursing
The Role of the WHNP in the Primary Care Provider Shortage
The Affordable Care Act has shifted healthcare focus in the U.S. to preventative and primary care. As the baby boomer population ages the need for primary care providers is increasing. There is an expected sharp increase in demand for primary care providers between 2013 and 2025. A cost-effective way to meet this need is employing WHNPs to provide primary care and focus on sexual and reproductive health.
Number of WHNP Programs in the United States
There are 48 WHNP programs in the U.S. with 2 of them being online through Old Dominion University in Virginia, and Thomas Jefferson University in Pennsylvania.
Obtain Licensure – You can apply for state licensure through your Board of Nursing (BON) after you are certified.
Obtain a DEA Number – In order to prescribe medication you must apply for a DEA registration number.
Maintain Active Certification and Licensure –The PNCB requires 15 contact hours per year to annually renew your certification. Every 7 years you will also be required to meet certain requirements to maintain your certification.
What is an Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?
AC PNPs manage acutely ill and chronically ill infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. As an AC PNP you will work within a larger healthcare team to assess and treat illnesses as well as provide holistic care for the entire family unit. You will be responsible for prescribing medications and managing patient care plans. According to the PNCB, you will care for patients with life-threatening illnesses, organ dysfunctions and failure, and more. While Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNPs) traditionally care for children, AC PNPs may care for young adults who are still battling childhood illnesses and diseases. An important part of being an AC PNP is providing education to patients and their families. Read about the Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PPCNP) and Pediatrics Registered Nurse.
Campus and Online Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP-AC) Programs
How Do I Become an Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?
All NP roles first require a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s in nursing. You must get your RN before you become an AC PNP. If you are not currently an RN there are still options for you to become an AC PNP.
BSN to MSN: 2 year-long master’s programs are available if you already have your BSN.
Bachelors to MSN: Direct Entry Master’s in Nursing programs provide a way for non-nurses to enter the nursing field and become NPs. You will become an RN and earn your master’s in nursing in the same program. Before entering the program you will likely need to take courses in anatomy and physiology, microbiology, chemistry, and developmental psychology. Direct Entry programs are usually 2 to 3 years in length.
BSN to DNP: Earning a Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) degree will also get you a master’s in nursing in 4 years. This degree prepares you to integrate evidence based research into your clinical practice.
MSN to DNP: Getting a DNP if you already have an MSN will take about 2 to 3 years.
Certification and Licensure: By getting certified through the PNBC you prove that you have the required knowledge to care for acutely ill pediatric patients. You must renew this certification annually by proving that you have met the 15-contact hour requirement. Every 7 years the PNBC also requires that AC PNPs meet additional requirements to keep their certification. Once certified you can submit your certification, RN license, NP program transcripts, and a fee to get licensed through your state’s BON.
Where Do AC PNPs Typically Work?
As an AC PNP you will work in hospitals, emergency departments, intensive care units, patient homes, subspecialty clinics and more. This provides you with the opportunity to change your practice setting throughout your career.
How Much Do Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioners Earn?
Your salary will vary depending on your state, city, experience, and practice setting. You can expect to make around $80,000 to $120,000 per year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics all NPs earn a median of $104,610 annually. Working in a more specialized area or a private hospital will likely pay more than a public one. However, there are advantages to working with the medically underserved population. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program are available for people working in medically underserved areas. Perkins Loan forgiveness is another way that you can get some of your student debt paid for if you are eligible.
Online AC PNP Programs
Education offered online has made it possible for busy professionals to obtain their master’s degrees. AC PNP online programs enable you to keep up with your personal life while pursuing a career as an NP. These programs allow you to do your coursework and classes online while completing clinical hours in a location that is convenient for you. You may not even need to go to campus at all. While there is only 1 fully online program for AC PNPs, there are a number of hybrid programs. Hybrid programs allow you to do some of your coursework online and require minimal campus time.
What is a Typical AC PNP Curriculum?
Vanderbilt University has a great example of the typical curriculum that you will see in your AC PNP program. There will likely be additional courses as well that vary from university to university:
Applications of Research to Practice
Health Promotion of Behavior Development: Birth through Adolescence
Advanced Health Assessment
Advanced Practice Nursing in Pediatric Acute Care
The Role of the AC PNP in the Healthcare Provider Shortage
While the greatest shortage of healthcare providers is currently within the primary care arena, the aging baby boomer generation means that more and more healthcare providers in all fields are retiring. The Affordable Care Act has placed emphasis on preventative care, but the U.S. still has high rates of acute and chronic illnesses. This applies to the pediatric population as well. Since the Affordable Care Act has also raised the number of insured people, there has been an increase in people seeking healthcare. AC PNPs can help fill the gap of providers in the pediatric acute care field.
Number of AC PNP Programs in the United States
There are 27 AC PNP programs in the U.S. and only 1 completely online program. The online program is offered through the University of Texas-El Paso. The number of total AC PNP programs in the U.S. is small, but almost all of them offer hybrid courses which increases accessibility.
What You Will Do: Care for children and young adults by collecting medical histories, assessing and diagnosing, prescribing medication, educating patients and parents, focusing on preventative care and more.
Where Will You Work: Private clinics, community health clinics, children’s hospitals, schools, summer camps, and more.
Employment Projections: There is a 31 percent anticipated growth for all NP roles between 2016 and 2026.
How Much Will I Earn: The salary range for Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioners (PPCNPs) goes from $70,000 to $110,000.
How Long Does It Take to Become a PPCNP: PPCNP master’s programs take 2 to 3 years to complete.
Requirements to Become One: You will first need to get an RN license and earn a bachelor’s degree and master’s in nursing, then you can get your NP license.
Eight Steps to Become a Pediatric Primary Care NP
Earn Your RN – Becoming a PPCNP first requires earning your RN or BSN. Make sure your university is ACEN or CCNE accredited university so that your credentials will be accepted in a master’s program. Our BSN guide can help you get there!
Pass The NCLEX-RN Exam – The NCLEX-RN exam is tough but not impossible, and our NCLEX-RN guide and practice exams will help make the big day easier.
Earn Your MSN – During your NP program you will need courses in ethics, nursing research, advanced pharmacology, health assessment, pediatric primary care, and more.
Complete Supervised Clinical Hours – You are required to complete 500 supervised during your NP education.
Obtain Licensure – After certification you must get licensed through your state’s Board of Nursing (BON).
Obtain a DEA Number – A DEA registration number is required to be able to prescribe medication.
Maintain Active Certification and Licensure –100 continuing education (CE) hours and 1,000 hours of working in a clinical setting are required to renew certification through the ANCC. Through the PNCB you must recertify annually by documenting that you have met the required 15 contact hours. With the PNCB there are also other requirements you must meet every 7 years.
What is a Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner?
PPCNPs provide primary care to children and young adults. As a PPCNP you will do wellness exams for children and adolescents and provide them and their parents with education. You will assess and diagnose as well as prescribe medications. According to the PNCB, you will focus on providing preventative care and managing chronic illnesses. PPCNPs are responsible for preparing children and their parents as they grow and move towards adulthood. The care you will provide will take into account the entire family, the society, and environment in which the child lives. You will have the opportunity to work with a team of healthcare professionals that may include physicians, administrative staff, laboratory personnel, and nurses. Read about the Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (ACPNP).
How Do I Become a Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner?
Earning a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s in nursing are the first steps to becoming a PPCNP. You must also be an RN before you can be a PPCNP. There are many ways to become a PPCNP, even if you are not yet an RN.
BSN to MSN: If you have your BSN you will need about 2 years in a master’s program.
Bachelors to MSN: For non-nurses, a Direct Entry Master’s in Nursing can help you optimize your time to become both and RN and PPCNP. You will be required to take certain courses to enter the program. These courses will likely involve biology, chemistry, psychology, anatomy and physiology, and more. After 2 to 3 years in a Direct Entry program you will have your master’s in nursing.
BSN to DNP: A doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) prepares you to use evidence based research to provide clinical care to patients. During these 4 years of education you will also earn your MSN.
MSN to DNP: If you have an MSN a DNP program is about 2 to 3 years long.
Certification and Licensure: Being a Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP) means that you have met the educational requirements and have the required knowledge to provide care to your population foci. If you are certified through the ANCC you will renew your certification every 5 years through obtaining 1,000 clinical hours and 100 hours of CEs. If your certifying body is the PNCB you will have to renew your certification every year by meeting the 15-contact hour requirement. Additionally, every 7 years you will have to meet other requirements to maintain your certification, but you still have to renew your certification every year. The PNCB also refers to PPCNPs as Primary Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (CPNP-PCs), but the scope of practice for the PPCNPS and CPNP-PCs is the same. After you get your certification you can submit proof of RN licensure, national certification, your nursing program transcripts, and a fee to get licensed through your state’s BON.
Campus and Online Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PNP-PC) Programs
You will be able to work in children’s hospitals, private clinics, schools, community health centers, and more. Throughout your career you will have the flexibility to move to different work environments if you choose to.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Salary Expectations
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that NPs have a median salary of $104,610. The salary range for PPCNPs can vary between $70,000 to $110,000 depending on practice setting, state, and city in which you work as well as your experience. Working in a private clinic compared to a community clinic will likely pay better, but you could be eligible for loan forgiveness by working in a medically underserved area. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program, and Perkins Loan forgiveness are just a couple of ways in which you can help get your student debt paid for.
Online PPCNP Programs
Online programs have changed the face of education. With NP programs this is no different. People who have professional and personal commitments, and lives that they cannot fully dedicate to their education, can now keep up with these commitments while becoming a PPCNP. PPCNP programs that are offered online provide the flexibility of online coursework and close to home clinical placements. While some programs may require that you come to campus a couple times a year, others will not require any on-campus time. There are 5 fully online PPCNP master’s programs.
What is a Typical PPCNP Curriculum?
Although your courses may vary depending on which school you attend, Johns Hopkins University provides a good example of a PPCNP program curriculum:
Applications of Research to Practice
Health Assessment and Measurement: Pediatric Variation
Human and Family Development Through the Lifespan
Advanced Practice in Primary Care
The Role of the PPCNP in the Primary Care Provider Shortage
The current shortage of primary care providers is due to both the aging baby boomer generation and the Affordable Care Act. With many older adults who were previously healthcare providers retiring, and the increase in insured patients from the Affordable Care Act, there is a gap in primary care providers that needs to be filled. PPCNPs are a cost effective way of filling this gap within the child and adolescent population. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act placed an increased emphasis on preventative care, something that PPCNPs are specifically trained to focus on.
Number of PPCNP Programs in the United States
There are 87 PPCNP programs in the U.S. with 5 being fully online. These 5 programs are offered at the University of South Alabama, the University of Missouri-Columbia, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Thomas Jefferson University, and the University of Texas-El Paso.
Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Resources