INTRODUCTION: The past decade has been marked by a gradual expansion of the traditional primary care role of the pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) into practice arenas that call for more acute and critical care of children. The purpose of the study was to explore the educational programming needs of dual (combined) track PNP programs that prepare graduates to provide care to children and adolescents across the continuum of health and illness. METHOD: A two-phase, exploratory, mixed method design was utilized. An electronic survey was completed by 65% of PNP program directors in the country. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with hospital-based PNPs who were practicing in roles that met a range of health care needs across the primary and acute care continuum. RESULTS: Primary care and acute care programs have more common than unique elements, and the vast majority of clinical competencies are common to both types of program. Only three competencies appear to be unique to acute care programs. DISCUSSION: The Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs should utilize existing evidence and develop guidelines for dual PNP programs that focus on the provision of care to children across a wide continuum of health and illness.
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