DNP—Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Acute Care

Our Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Acute Care (PNP-AC) track within the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program prepares you to focus on caring for children with acute, critical, and chronic illnesses and/or injuries. PNP-ACs provide health care to children (infancy through young adulthood) and their families in inpatient, emergency, and specialty care settings. PNP-AC practice focuses on restorative and/or palliative care for children.

Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioners are critical to the care of children of all ages, as there is currently a national shortage in pediatric care providers. As an Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, you will specialize in caring for patients who have high intensity nursing and medical needs. You will partner with patients, families, and health professional colleagues to promote self and shared management, including the treatment of acute, chronic, and complex conditions.

Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioners are prepared to:

  • Perform comprehensive health assessments, including ordering, performing and interpreting diagnostic tests and procedures
  • Create differential diagnoses and diagnose acute and complex illnesses and complications
  • Partner with patients and families to manage acute, chronic, and complex health conditions
  • Prescribe and evaluate therapies (medication and non-medication based)
  • Utilize developmental, patient- and family-centered approaches
  • Advocate for nursing and the role of the PNP-AC

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

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 health care systems and education across the health spectrum (wellness through acute care) should consider applying to the Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist track.

Sites of practice

Graduates from our PNP-AC track will be prepared to practice independently and within larger health care teams. They may work in a variety of settings and with diverse populations, including:

  • Inpatient pediatric subspecialty teams
  • Hospitalist
  • Ambulatory pediatric subspecialty care
  • Pediatric intensive or critical care
  • Pediatric emergency departments and urgent care settings


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 PNP-AC graduates are eligible to sit for the Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner examination through Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB).


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