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What is a Pediatric Nurse?
A pediatric nurse is typically an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) or Registered Nurse (RN) with specialty training in pediatrics. Pediatric nurses work with infants, toddlers, young children, and adolescents. Given the developmental needs and needs of growing children, pediatric nursing requires a specialized set of skills and knowledge. PN's work closely with guardians and parents to educate them on proper nutrition, childhood disease awareness, and wellness insights for their child.
Educational Requirements in Pediatric Nursing
In terms of educational requirements, Pediatric Nursing degree holders will have typically studied a variety of science and social science classes during their tenure. While classes will vary from college to college, the following courses are typically core to a pediatric nurse while in college:
- Behavioral Psychology
- Human Growth & Development
- Physiology & Anatomy
- Healthcare Administration
- Family Therapy
- Biomedical Science
- Business Administration
- Behavioral Science
- Family Studies
What Does a Pediatric Nurse Do?
A recent survey compiled by the United States Department of Labor provides great insight on daily activities and job responsibilities of pediatric nurses. The top activities of a pediatric nurse working in a primary care environment include:
- Performing routine developmental screenings
- Managing maintenance care including well-checks
- Diagnosing and treating childhood illnesses
- Providing coaching and counseling for health concerns
- Delivering inoculations
- Managing files, data, and patient-specific information
- Performing physical examinations
- Conducting routine check-ups and well care follow-ups
Pediatric Nurse Job Duties
Job duties of a pediatric nurse will vary from one specialization to another. For example, pediatric nurses working in a large hospital will have differing job duties when compared to a nurse in an outpatient care facility. Likewise, the job duties of a pediatric nurse working in an acute care facility would generally entail the following tasks:
- Attending to children with chronic illness
- Analyzing test results and lab results
- Placing orders for specific medications
- Providing various therapeutic treatments
- Performing physical and mental assessments
How to Become a Pediatric Nurse
Step 1 - The first step to becoming a pediatric nurse is to gain academic experience and knowledge in the field. Students may start the process by obtaining a diploma in nursing, ASN, or BSN. The education from an accredited college will allow you to pass the NCLEX-RN and become a licensed RN.
Step 2 - Next, you will need to gain valuable work experience in the field. Seeking specific jobs in pediatrics will help you determine if it makes sense to pursue additional certifications or specialty degrees.
Step 3 - The third phase in your journey is to determine your next academic move. You will need to decide if becoming a Nurse Practitioner in pediatrics or earning an advanced nursing degree is best. Advanced degrees can be obtained in pediatric specialties like acute care, primary care, mental health, or emergency nursing.
Step 4 - You will then work to earn your pediatric nursing certificate through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB). Passing the Certified Pediatric Nurse Examination will signify your expertise and mastery in pediatrics. As such, you can begin work as a pediatric nurse after meeting all state-specific requirements.
What are the Top Qualities of a Pediatric Nurse?
As part of the same survey by the U.S. Department of Labor, pediatric nurses from around the country provided insight into the top qualities necessary to perform the job at a high level. The top 5 qualities of a pediatric nurse include:
- Caring for Others — The ability to providing care, assistance, medical attention, and emotional support to children and their guardians.
- Analyzing Information — Knowing what is important and what is not in order to properly translate those findings to related parties.
- Problem Solving & Decision Making — Analyzing information about a child and evaluating the results help all stakeholders make good decisions.
- Documentation & Recording Information — The detail-orientation to properly and accurately enter, analyze, record, and maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form relating to a child’s health and development.
- Obtaining Information — The ability to observe, extract, and collect relevant information from important sources.
How Long Do You Have to Go to School to Become a Pediatric Nurse?
The length of time you will attend school to become a pediatric nurse can range from one year to four-years for full-time students. How long you attend college before becoming a pediatric nurse depends on whether or not you have a background in nursing. Since a pediatric nurse is a type of Registered Nurse, you will first need to obtain an RN from an accredited, state-approved college or university.
A degree in Registered Nursing can be earned via BSN’s (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) or through bridge programs (LVN to BSN, Accelerated BSN, LPN to BSN, Second Degree BSN) from accredited schools. Likewise, for qualified candidates you may be eligible to simply take the pediatric nurse practitioners certification from entities such as the Pediatric Nursing Certificate Board depending on your experience and state requirements.
After you obtain your RN, you will need to take and pass the NCLEX examination. The NCLEX is a standardized test administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Once you have passed the NCLEX examination and all other state-based requirements, you are eligible to apply for a nursing license in your state of residence.
Where Do Pediatric Nurses Work?
Pediatric nurses provide family-centric care in a wide number of settings. In fact, a pediatric nurse can be directly employed by an organization, be shared between several facilities, or work on a contract basis. The most common examples of where a pediatric nurse can work include: community hospitals, home health care, schools, military facilities, clinics, special needs daycare facilities, primary care facilities, public health agencies, ambulatory clinics, and children’s hospitals.
Employment Specializations in Nursing
Pediatric nurses that earn a degree from an accredited school will typically launch a career in pediatrics. Many will exercise a direct employment arrangement whereby students work for an organization during school and transition to full-time work after graduating. However, some pediatric nurses will choose to utilize their degree in various capacities. With additional training or certifications, a pediatric nurse can specialize further as a child psychiatrist, adolescent nurse assistant, occupational therapist, Registered Nurse, school nurse, infant nurse consultant, LPN, physician assistant, social work, or respiratory therapy.
Pediatric Nurse Job Growth & Career Outlook
Employment growth in Pediatric Nursing is expected to be robust according to surveys performed by Glassdoor, Payscale, and the BLS. In fact, with the average job growth expected to be six percent, nursing careers are slated to grow nearly three times as fast as the average job. Specifically, jobs for Registered Nurses are expected to swell by 16% and Nurse Practitioners a robust 31% in the coming 10 years. Pediatric nurse salary will vary by location, employment type, work experience, and organization from coast to coast.
Resources for Pediatric Nurses
- Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN)
- Northeast Pediatric Cardiology Nurses Association (NPCNA)
- Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON)
- Institute of Pediatric Nursing (IPN)
- Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)
- National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP)
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
- Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (AFPNP)