Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with additional education that allows them to provide high-quality, cost-effective and individualized care for patients, families, and communities. Nurse practitioners are authorized to treat, and provide health promotion, maintenance, and sick care services to those in need. In addition, nurse practitioners have privileges to prescribe medications.
Family nurse practitioners provide direct health care services to newborns, infants, children, adolescents, adults, pregnant and postpartum women, and older adults. Family nurse practitioners are specialist in family nursing, in the context of community, with broad knowledge and experience with people of all ages, and demonstrate a commitment to family-centered care. (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2002, pp 21)
Pediatric nurse practitioners deliver care to newborns, infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers, school-aged children, adolescents, and young adults. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2002), “The pediatric nurse practitioner is a specialist in the care of children from birth through young adult with a in-depth knowledge and experience in pediatric primary health care including well child care and prevention/management of common pediatric acute illnesses and chronic conditions” (pp 29). In the 1960s, the CCU nurses’ work lead to other practice questions for the profession of nursing. It was thought that if these specially trained nurses could use their expertise to diagnose and treat patients, then why couldn’t nurses who are specially trained in other areas, do the same. With this thought in mind, and due to a nationwide shortage of physicians, the pediatric and family nurse practitioner position evolved. (Hamric, Spross & Hanson, 2009, pp 16) Both pediatric and family nurse practitioners share like core competencies. These competencies include: Health promotion, health protection, disease prevention, and treatment; nurse practitioner-patient relationship; teaching-coaching function; professional role; managing and negotiating health care delivery systems; monitoring and ensuring the quality of health care practice; and cultural competence. Although both, family and pediatric nurse practitioners share the same core competencies, each competency is unique to those different specialties.
Core competencies for family nurse practitioners focus on patients of all ages, whereas pediatric nurse practitioners focus on the patient population of newborns to young adults. The core competencies specific to family nurse practitioners include but are not limited to obtaining and documenting health history for patients of all ages, identify health and psychosocial risk factors of patients of all ages, demonstrate proficiency in family assessment, assess specific family needs in the context of community assessment, and distinguish normal and abnormal change with aging. The family nurse practitioners are also responsible for identifying signs and symptoms of acute physical, chronic physical and mental illnesses for patients of all ages, as well as analyze and synthesize collected data for patients of all ages. Family nurse practitioners evaluate the effectiveness of the plan of care for the family, as well as the individual, and execute change. Family nurse practitioners also demonstrate in practice a commitment to care for the whole family. (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2002, pp 21-24) The core competencies specific to pediatric nurse practitioners include but are not limited to obtaining and documenting health history for children, in addition to analyzing and identifying factors that may affect the child’s growth and development.
Assess for child abuse and neglect; analyze the family system that may affect the health of the child and adolescent; and assessing the patient for health risks. Pediatric nurse practitioners are also to promote healthy nutritional practices, and incorporate health objectives into individual educational plans for children and those with special needs. The pediatric nurse practitioner is to adapt their relationship to the changing nature of the child’s cognitive and psycho-social development, and be able to effectively communicate with family members. The pediatric nurse practitioners are to serve as advocates for the child/family and provide for the safety, health and protection of the child. (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2002, pp 29-33) Three organizations important to the role of the pediatric and family nurse practitioner include: National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners; Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses; and Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. An agency that is important to the role of the pediatric nurse practitioner is National Certification Board of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and Nurses. An agency that is important to the role of family nurse practitioner is American Nurses Credentialing Center.
Hamric, A.B., Spross, J.A. & Hanson, C.M. (2009). Advanced nursing practice: an integrative approach (4thed). Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company.
US Department of Health and Human Services (2002). Nurse practitioner primary care competencies in specialty areas: Adult, family, gerontological, pediatric, and women’s health. Available at: http://www.aacn.nche.edu/Education/pdf/npcompetencies.pdf