Pediatric nurses are Registered Nurses (RNs) who care for children from infancy until
the age of eighteen. Children are unique in that they are constantly changing and
growing and when very young, are unable to communicate very well. Pediatric RNs need
to have excellent assessment skills to be able to recognize a problem even though the
patient may not be able to speak for themselves. Pediatric RNs often have very nurturing
personalities and enjoy working with children. Pediatric RNs care not only for the young
patient, but also help to educate and reassure the parents, who can often be as scared
at the patients themselves.
Pediatric Nurse Job Description
Pediatric RNs may work in a variety of settings. They are often employed in a hospital
on a pediatric unit or in the pediatric intensive care unit. Recently, there has been
a trend toward specialized pediatric emergency departments that treat only children,
catering to pediatric RNs who crave the excitement of the emergency room. Pediatric
RNs also work in pediatric physician offices or may work as a school nurse, caring for
children during the school day. They often work twelve hour shifts, including nights,
weekends and holidays.
Nursing duties of a pediatric nurse are similar to any other type of nurse. They are
responsible for caring for the patient on a day to day basis including providing education,
administering medications and performing nursing procedures such as wound care or establishing
intravenous access. While these tasks are similar to other nursing specialties, pediatric
nurses' jobs can be particularly challenging given the small size of their patients.
Education becomes even more important to the pediatric RN because situations must often
be explained to a young child in a way they will understand and the nurse must also
educate the parents and family.
How to Become Pediatric Nurse
All Registered Nurses start with a degree in nursing. This degree may be an associate's
degree or a bachelor's degree depending on one's preference. For those who are interested
in pursuing an advanced degree later on, obtaining a bachelor's degree is a better choice.
The length of study varies from two to four years depending on the program chosen. Degree
programs may be classroom-based or have an online component. While there is no specific
degree program geared toward pediatric nursing, students often have the opportunity to
experience pediatric clinical rotations. After graduation, the NCLEX-RN exam needs to be
passed. Once licensed for their particular state, nurses can apply for a position in
Experienced pediatric nurses may choose to become certified. Certification is offered
through the Pediatric Nurse Certification Board. To be eligible for certification, a
nurse must have 1800 documented hours of pediatric clinical practice within the previous
two years and a valid RN license.
In 2012, pediatric RNs salary ranged from $30,989 to $79,562. Pay varies with location
of employment, length of experience, and regional place of employment. Certified pediatric
RNs may be able to command higher pay than nurses without certification.
Opportunities For Nursing Career Advancement
Pediatric RNs desiring more autonomy and responsibility may choose to become a
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. The entry level degree to become an advanced practice
nurse is a master's degree. There are over 75 pediatric nurse practitioner programs
across the country that offer curriculum specifically geared toward the care of children.
Certification for nurse practitioners is offered through the same board that provides
certifications for RNs, the Pediatric Nurse Certification Board.
If you enjoy working with children and have a desire to help others, pediatric nursing
may be a great choice! While some people shy away from working with children, pediatric
nurses tend to gravitate toward this special population. Having the ability to positively
impact the lives of small children can lead to a very rewarding career. In addition to
having a rewarding career, nurses often benefit from job security and flexibility as
healthcare workers are in high demand. Choosing to be a pediatric nurse can result in a
life-long fulfilling career for those who love to work with children.