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What Is the Difference Between a Family Nurse Practitioner and a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?

Choose the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) nurse practitioner specialization that meets your career goals.

Family nurse practitioners and pediatric nurse practitioners are both advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) whose education and national and state certification and licensure qualify them to diagnose and treat patients.1

You’ll find these nursing professionals working in their own practices, pediatric primary care offices, hospitals, specialty clinics, public health departments, schools, and other facilities.


But there are some differences between these professional roles. Here are a few things you should know about each of these important careers in nursing.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

“First and foremost,” the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) says, these healthcare professionals “are experts in pediatrics and advocates for children.” According to NAPNAP, pediatric nurse practitioners and pediatric-focused APRNs:2

  • Treat children from birth through the transition to adult care.
  • Practice general pediatrics or specialize in adolescents and young adults or neonatal populations.
  • Spend significant time with patients and families.
  • Adhere to each state’s regulatory guidelines for APRN licensure, including practice and prescriptive authority.
  • Have full practice and prescriptive authority in 22 states and the District of Columbia that allows them to work independently.

If you earn a pediatric nurse practitioner primary care master’s degree, and obtain the proper certification and licensure, NAPNAP says you can expect to:2

  • Diagnose and treat common childhood illnesses.
  • Screen and manage mental health illnesses.
  • Manage acute, chronic, and critical pediatric diseases.
  • Order and interpret results of laboratory and diagnostic tests, X-rays, and ultrasounds.
  • Perform school physicals and provide childhood immunizations.
  • Perform well child exams and developmental screenings.
  • Prescribe medications.
  • Advise parents on common child health concerns.
  • Provide behavioral counseling to children and caregivers on issues such as improving school performance.
  • Work with interprofessional teams to provide evidence-based care for patients with life-threatening illnesses.
  • Manage complex and ongoing intensive therapies.

Family Nurse Practitioner

Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) may perform those same duties, but they also serve a broader population, which is a main distinction between the two specialties. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), these specialty nursing professionals serve populations ranging from infants to older adults.

“Although FNPs have a broad scope of practice, from educating patients on disease prevention to treating serious illnesses, they can also obtain additional certifications in areas such as diabetes, pain, or obesity management,” the AANP says. “FNPs are not required to have these additional certifications. Instead, they are available to many APRNs seeking to meet the needs of their patients and enhance their careers.”3

In addition to the work settings cited above, FNPs may also work in areas that include women’s health, oncology, and nephrology. The AANP says the top focuses for FNPs are primary care, urgent care, and internal medicine.

Becoming a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

If providing healthcare exclusively to children and young adults is your goal, Walden University’s MSN Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care degree program can help you achieve it. Walden is No. 1 in Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) graduates in the United States.4

Walden also offers an MSN Family Nurse Practitioner online degree program if your career interests are focused on caring for patients across the life spectrum.

In Walden’s MSN Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care online degree program, you’ll learn from 100% doctorally prepared didactic faculty who will help you gain the education you need to oversee the health and well-being of patients from birth to 21. Walden’s online nursing program will prepare you to sit for the pediatric nurse practitioner primary care certification exam.

As a pediatric nurse practitioner with the requisite licensure and certification, you may choose to work in settings that include private primary care practices, including your own; community pediatric practices; school-based health clinics; and health departments.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects nurse practitioners to find a robust job market through 2029, with employment expected to grow 52%—much faster than average for all occupations.5 And while the salaries of pediatric nurse practitioners vary, the BLS reports that the median wage in 2019 for nurse practitioners was $109,820 per year.5

A Walden Enrollment Specialist can help you explore your options for earning your MSN Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care degree and help you get started on your journey to a meaningful nursing career where children are your focus.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care online degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

4Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) IPEDS database. Collected using Burning Glass Technologies. Retrieved February 2020, using CIP code 51.38 (Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research, and Clinical Nursing). Includes 2017–18 provisional data.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,