DNP—Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist

perinatal-baby-motherOur Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program offers a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist (PCNS) track for students interested in advanced practice study caring for infants to young adults across the health spectrum (wellness to acute care).

As a Pediatric CNS student, you will gain expertise in direct client care, nursing practice, and systems and organizations. You will learn how to incorporate clinical, educational, research, leadership and management skills into the advanced practice nursing role. Clinical nurse specialists influence care outcomes by providing expert consultation for nursing staff and by implementing quality and safety improvements in health care delivery systems.

The UW School of Nursing is the only nursing school in the WWAMI region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) to offer the Pediatric CNS track.

Students interested in direct patient care may be better suited for one of the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner tracks. Students interested in focusing their practice on child health promotion and disease prevention should consider applying to the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care track. Students interested in focusing their practice on restorative care for children with acute, critical and chronic illnesses and/or injuries should consider applying to the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Acute Care track.

Sites of practice

The majority of Pediatric CNS graduates work within a large clinical agency as members of health care teams, serving as expert clinicians, educators, leaders and managers.

A Pediatric CNS often integrates and improves care within organizations, completes quality improvement and safety initiatives, and improvement in processes.

Clinical nurse specialist practice integrates nursing practice, which focuses on assisting patients:

  • in the prevention or resolution of illness
  • with medical diagnosis
  • with treatment of disease, injury and disability


All Doctor of Nursing Practice tracks are offered as full-time study only.

Year one

Year one of the DNP program is offered in a hybrid format (50 percent in-person, 50-percent distance learning), and requires that you be on campus one day per week. You will complete core DNP academic classwork with peers across all DNP tracks in the School of Nursing. Content of year one courses includes:

  • leadership
  • appraisal and application of evidence to advance practice
  • health equity
  • health systems and policy
  • wellness and health promotion, and
  • quality improvement

Year two

In year 2, students establish the foundation of advanced practice education of the lifespan, which includes:

  • pathophysiology
  • advanced physical assessment, and
  • pharmacology

Students build upon this in track-specific advanced assessment, diagnosis/management, and pharmacology. You will gain advanced practice skills from these academic and lab courses to move into clinical placements during spring quarter.

Year three

As in year two, many courses require in-person attendance with some courses including distance learning methods. In the final year of your program, you will continue clinical training.

In addition, you will work with your supervisory committee to complete a DNP final project in collaboration with a local clinical agency or organization. This project is presented in the form of a final examination.

Role of the DNP

Our DNP program prepares you not only for an advanced practice role but also teaches you how to look at leading-edge research and apply that evidence to your practice.

The DNP program’s additional academic and clinical hours beyond a master’s-level degree gives you a solid foundation to become a leader in the nursing profession.  You will work with faculty who are nationally recognized for their research, and also with agencies around the Puget Sound region to gain hundreds of hours of hands-on clinical experience.

By combining advanced practice nursing skills and knowledge of how to evaluate evidence-based research, you are empowered to become a more efficient and effective practitioner.

National certifications

Successful Pediatric CNS graduates are eligible to sit for the Clinical Nurse Specialist in Pediatrics examination through the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.


The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at the University of Washington is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (