For nurses who wish to move into some of the most in-demand positions in their profession, becoming a nurse practitioner can prove to be a smart career choice.

A master’s degree is required to become a nurse practitioner. Nurses who enter this area of the profession can specialize in many different fields. They include geriatrics, family medicine and mental health.

One of the biggest areas in demand is that of pediatrics. Nurses who earn a master’s degree from a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care program prepare themselves for jobs in a rewarding, high-growth profession.

What a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Does

With a graduate degree as a pediatric nurse practitioner, nurses are prepared to take on jobs of great responsibility and advanced care in pediatric medicine. For example, some of the duties of a PNP would include:

  • Working with pediatric patients to assess their healthcare needs
  • Making medical diagnosis based on patient assessments and medical data
  • Developing healthcare plans to improve or manage a patient’s condition
  • Analyzing test results and making needed changes to a patient’s healthcare treatment
  • Working with patients and their families to incorporate habits that promote improved health in their daily lives
  • Consulting with doctors and other medical professionals as needed to improve a patient’s healthcare treatment

So, why earn a master’s degree and become a pediatric nurse practitioner? Here are some of the reasons.

It’s In Demand

Nursing as whole faces a shortage of qualified workers in Texas and around the country. This extends also to nurse practitioners. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 31 percent increase in nurse practitioners by 2026.

The need is even larger in Texas. The Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies projects the demand for nurse practitioners to grow an astounding 46.3 percent by 2030, with more than 25 percent of the demand not being met.

This also results in very competitive salaries. In Texas, nurse practitioners made a mean annual salary of $111,330 in May 2017, according to the BLS. That’s one of the highest in the nation. The top 10 percent in the field earned $152,560.

It’s A Critical Job

It’s impossible to quantify the “job satisfaction” of working in an area where the focus is on providing care for children from birth through their young adult years. A pediatric nurse practitioner has expertise and experience in all areas of pediatric healthcare, including well child care, prevention and management of common illnesses that impact children and managing chronic conditions. With a goal of providing the best medical services possible for children, a PNP serves a critical and highly rewarding role in the healthcare system.

It’s More Convenient Than Ever

Online degree programs have made it more convenient for nurses to bolster their career with a master’s degree. With the ability to attend class from anywhere they have an internet connection, students can now fit school work around busy professional and personal lives.

The details of each program vary by school. Houston Christian University master’s degree program in pediatric nurse practitioner in primary care offers a good example of how hybrid online/on-campus programs work.

Students can finish their degree in about two years. There are 14 courses for a total of 36 credit hours. The program combines online learning with hands-on clinical experience. The competency-based educational format meets both the requirements of employers as well as those from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Some of areas where students will develop expertise include:

  • Advanced nursing research
  • Leadership for quality, safety and health
  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Diagnosis and management of acute illnesses in infants, children, and adolescents.
  • Diagnosis and management of chronic illnesses in children and adolescents

With the option of an online program, the high demand for PNPs and the vital importance of the job, there’s never been a better time for those interested in elevating their nursing career to make the leap into earning a master’s degree.