Document Type



Doctor of Nursing Practice



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Dr. Susan L. Dean-Baar


Cynthia Vishy

Laura Kuensting


Introduction: Due to an increasing number of acutely ill pediatric patients and changing healthcare demands, there is an even greater need for nurse practitioners (NPs) to work in the area of pediatric acute care (AC). There is a lack of alignment of education and certification with the scope of practice of the AC Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP). The development and implementation of a graduate level AC PNP program in Missouri will support the alignment of education, clinical training, and certification with the scope of practice of the AC PNP and improve access to a quality program for nurses that currently live in the Midwest. This program will prepare evidence-based NPs to become leaders in the field of pediatric AC and to provide quality care to acutely ill children.

Method: A literature review and thorough analysis of a needs assessment survey of NPs in St. Louis (112 respondents) were performed.

Results: The survey showed that 69% of primary care (PC) PNPs work in an area that could be considered an area of AC. Twenty-two percent of the PC NPs would return to school within five years to receive their AC PNP certificate. When asked, “What would have made you feel more prepared to take on your first role as a new NP,” there was a theme among some of the replies. Interestingly, some of the respondents stated that they would have chosen an AC program for study had one been available or feasible for them to attend.

Discussion: As a result of the survey and needs evaluation, an AC PNP program was developed. This program will provide a supply of AC PNPs to meet the needs of Missouri and the surrounding region. Furthermore, this will align the AC PNPs education and certification with the scope of practice.