The PNP Profession - NAPNAP

The PNP Profession

NAPNAP Career Resource Guide

It is our pleasure to present this resource to you as a guide to your career development and with appreciation for your role in advancing the practice of all PNPs and your fellow NPs.


Nurse practitioners (NPs) are healthcare providers who work in a variety of settings. Many studies have confirmed nurse practitioners deliver high quality, cost-effective care. The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity report by the National Academy of Medicine advocates for the use of NPs to the full extent of their scope of practice to eliminate barriers to health care access. With the recent restriction of physician-in-training work hours, NPs are strategically positioned to fill the gap and assume responsibility as health care providers for patients in teaching hospitals.

Identifying key issues related to the profession and understanding general business and healthcare policy trends positions you to be able to make informed career decisions. It’s essential to understand the role of the nurse practitioner, scope of practice and market size and demand for the role. As providers, it is important to understand that health care issues will impact your profession and practice opportunities.

In Gallup’s 2018 poll assessing ethics and honesty, nurses were again ranked the most-trusted profession in the United States for the 22nd consecutive year. Nurse practitioners are considered providers of safe, effective quality care. As you continue your career as a PNP, we will offer you information regarding the job market and factors that influence your profession.

Learn more about PNPs and APRNs caring for children. 

Students looking to learn more about the  profession click here

Regardless of why you are looking for a job or a new position, you will want to thoroughly explore your options prior to beginning a search. Whether you are looking for a new job within your current hospital or clinic or considering relocation to another state, you have a variety of settings to consider for your next job opportunity. Pediatric nurse practitioners are utilized in a variety of settings such as:

  • primary care practices
  • community or children’s hospitals
  • schools
  • specialty clinics
  • academic institutions
  • health maintenance organizations (HMOs)
  • industry
  • consultants in the legal and software/app fields

Of course, the skills acquired as a PNP can also be applied to many other fields. Abilities to problem-solve, provide anticipatory guidance and teach are transferable to a variety of other types of positions

After completion of an advanced practice degree from an accredited pediatric nurse practitioner program, graduates are qualified to take a certification exam to attest to minimum competency to practice. Currently only the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) offers the Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care (CPNP-PC®) certification exam and the Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Acute Care (CPNP-AC®) certification exam.

Pediatric Nursing Certification Board

In recent decades, PNCB has been an independently incorporated certification board; however, NAPNAP, together with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), chartered the board in 1975. Today, the PNCB certifies more than 95% of all nationally certified PNPs and offers the following certifications for pediatric nurse practitioners:

  • Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care (CPNP-PC®)
  • Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Acute Care (CPNP-AC®)
  • Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS)

American Nurses Credentialing Center 

NAPNAP also recognizes PNPs certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The ANCC Commission on Certification (COC) retired the examination for the Pediatric Primary Care NP board certification (PPCNP-BC) as of Dec. 31, 2018. If you hold an ANCC PPCNP-BC certification, you can maintain and renew your PPCNP-BC certification by fulfilling the published renewal requirements.

 NAPNAP offers our highly-rated Primary Care and Acute Care PNP Certification Review courses at our national conference, and/or virtually each year. There are also resources available for examination preparation that can be found on the PNCB Resources website.  

Upon graduation, students can apply to take their examination on the PNCB website. The application is not considered complete until PNCB receives a final transcript directly from the school issuing the degree. Once the application is approved, students will have a 90-day window to schedule their exam. If you are a student looking for additional information, click here. 

After successfully passing a certification exam, a graduate NP may apply for state licensure and prescriptive authority through their state board of nursing. Current PNP certification must be maintained in order to be a licensed provider. States vary in how long this process may take and vary in which documentation is required for initial NP applications. Depending on the state board of nursing rules, regulations and scope of practice legislation, some states are considered reduced or restrictive in their NP scope of practice requiring a collaborative agreement and/or supervisory arrangement for practice and/or prescriptive authority, while other states have full scope of practice for NPs allowing them to practice to the full extent of their education and certification. It is the your responsibility to be aware of your state’s requirements for NP license and practice. 

Get to know your state board of nursing’s rules and regulations

It is important to become very familiar with the rules and regulations of the state board of nursing in the state where you plan to practice. State board regulations and requirements vary from state to state and it is your responsibility as an APRN to know and understand your requirements, as well as make sure that you have met all of them and continue to do so. More information on the various regulations of all state boards can be found here. 

NAPNAP urges all NPs to obtain a  National Provider Identifier (NPI) which is the “standard unique health identifier” for health care providers to use in filing and processing health care claims and other transactions. It is issued through the National Provider System and replaces all “legacy” identifiers, including the UPIN number. Your NPI number will not change over time and will stay the same throughout any changes in practice location. To learn more information about the National Provider Identifier (NPI) and apply for your NPI, click here or call CMS at 877-267-2323. There is no fee associated with obtaining your own unique number.

The United States Department of Justice in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) requires all health care providers who prescribe controlled substances to have a DEA number. Prior to obtaining a DEA number a provider must obtain a state APRN license in addition to authorization to prescribe controlled substances and must be aware of what class substances they are authorized to prescribe by their individual state. Some states may also require a state DEA license, which is a separate application and may require different CE requirements each year. Refer to your state board of nursing rules and regulations for more information.

Federal DEA applications are available online.

An application must be completed for each individual practice location and should be updated with any job change or relocation of a practice. At a minimum, DEA numbers must be renewed every three years. Obtaining and prescribing under your own DEA number is an important strategy of increasing NP visibility among patients, families, pharmacists, pharmaceutical companies and other health care providers.

Once you receive a job offer, your employer will start the credentialing process. Credentialing involves verifying the licensing, qualifications, training and skills required for employment and must be completed prior to your start date. This process can take an average of 6-8 weeks, depending on the employer. For more information regarding credentialing and privileging, visit our Onboarding page (insert link to onboarding page).

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