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The Future of Pediatrics and Neonatal Care for Nurse Practitioners


More meaningful opportunities exist now than ever in the field of pediatrics. With just under 4 million babies born in the United States in 2017 according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and almost a half-million born premature, pediatric nurses are in high demand. Children can benefit greatly from the valuable services of experienced pediatric nurse practitioners who make sure newborns and young children stay healthy during their most vulnerable years.


Healthcare itself is a booming field, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipating 31% growth for the nursing field as a whole from 2016 to 2026. The future of pediatrics will leverage this growth, along with enhanced technology, to lower child mortality rates and improve the overall health of babies born premature. In addition, an increased focus on mental health in the medical field will support children as they develop toward adulthood.


If working in pediatrics excites you, a career as a nurse practitioner could be the right fit. Nurse practitioner degrees require two to four years of advanced study after a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), and could provide entry into the rewarding neonatal care field.

Understanding Children’s Mental Health

In the past half-century significant strides have been made in the field of mental health, particularly for children. According to the CDC, the first report to detail the number of U.S. children aged 3-17 with specific mental disorders was released in 2013. It found that large portions of the 70 million children in the U.S. live with a mental disorder. The most prevalent was attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), affecting around 8% of children, or about 5 million individuals.


One-fifth of all American adults live with a mental illness, and it’s likely that future pediatric care will focus on early diagnosis and treatment in adolescence. Modern nursing programs that train pediatric healthcare professionals emphasize treating mental health in childhood, which often includes coordinating with organizations like the child’s school and mental health professionals.

Technology and Pediatric Population Health

New technologies in the healthcare market make pediatric care easier and more streamlined. These technologies address common issues, such as how to manage large quantities of data to solve complex health issues, as well as actual medical issues themselves. One example of cutting-edge technology shaking up the field is a mobile-friendly app to allow doctors a clear look at young patients’ eyes through a smartphone. In another instance, doctors at Children’s Health in Dallas tracked a wide variety of health factors in 75 transplant patients by having them swallow a pill containing various sensors..


These high-tech examples point to a future pediatrics landscape that will include more access to high-quality healthcare for children. Imagine if someone could easily access healthcare data across state lines through sensors and medical devices, or if a school nurse could instantly report results to parents or a doctor for analysis. Increased connectivity allows for a well-monitored and holistic view of the health of children.


This data serves an additional purpose. As healthcare institutions gather more information, it will help pediatric nurse practitioners better assess focus areas of care and the medical issues that impact communities most.

Incorporating Family and Social Dynamics When Providing Care

All healthcare involves a measure of sensitivity and empathy for a patient’s situation, but pediatrics requires an especially delicate touch. Family and social dynamics need to be considered in addition to the child’s physical and mental health. Different ethnicities and religions approach healthcare and neonatal care in different ways, and though healthcare professionals may disagree with the wishes of their patients’ parents, they ultimately must respect these differing values. As our world becomes more interconnected, it will affect how patients from a variety of backgrounds and belief systems are treated.


A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that pediatric healthcare providers who complete cultural competency training programs are more knowledgeable and aware of cultural differences in their patients. They display an increase in nursing skills, suggesting that healthcare workers who are aware of their patients’ individual cultural needs are more successful, and highlighting the importance of pediatric healthcare education focused on cultural sensitivity as part of job training.

Explore Nursing Careers in Pediatrics and Neonatal Care

There will always be a need for motivated, passionate professionals in pediatrics and neonatal care. Treating children’s healthcare issues can be a rewarding experience that enables those pursuing a career in nursing to help new families navigate early medical issues and ensure the next generation’s health.


Maryville University offers a range of online nursing degree options for nurses excited about advancing their careers, whether it’s earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, or even a post-master’s certificate. Explore our programs and see if one is right for you.


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