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What is a Pediatric Nurse

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 pediatrics.

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.

Why I Want To Be A Nurse
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