Every nurse has a unique opportunity to specialize in the field that brings them joy. One of the more passion-driven nursing types is the pediatric nurse.
In this blog post we will explore:
- What is a pediatric nurse?
- What does a pediatric nurse do?
- What skills does a pediatric nurse need?
- Where do pediatric nurses work?
- How do you become a pediatric nurse?
- How much does a pediatric nurse make?
What is a pediatric nurse?
A pediatric nurse is a registered or advanced practice registered nurse who works with children in various healthcare settings. Each day is different for pediatric nurses as they can work with anyone from a newborn to a teenager.
What does a pediatric nurse do?
Pediatric nurses perform many different tasks throughout the day. A lot of them are similar to other nurse types. These include:
- Caring for children who are chronically ill
- Providing physical assessments
- Administering medications
- Checking growth and development
- Creating care plans for children
- Educating parents and caregivers about wellness practices
What skills does a pediatric nurse need?
Pediatric nurses need a diverse skill set to provide quality care.
Relational skills: This is mentioned first because it is most important. It would help if you could connect quickly with patients and build rapport. Many children don’t understand how to communicate their pain, and translating those aches and pains into words depends on a solid relationship. Often, nurses try to address patients by their first name to get closer to them.
Empathy: Although all nurses need to be rooted in empathy, pediatric nursing requires it uniquely. Children don’t respond well to people who are closed off and cold. Being open, inviting, and empathetic will help a child open up in return.
Critical thinking skills: As noted, children often can’t explain how they’re feeling, so pediatric nurses need to use their critical thinking and deduction skills. They have to use these to understand their patient’s needs and address them effectively.
Playfulness: Though you are dealing with sick kids, being playful can help ease the stress and relax the mood for kids. It can be helpful to play games, sing, or tell jokes. This can help a kid open up and feel more at ease.
Where do pediatric nurses work?
Pediatric nurses work in many different settings. Often, they work in:
- Doctor’s offices
Most pediatric nurses work under a physician or nurse practitioner who specializes in pediatric or family medicine. In many ways, pediatric nursing bears a similarity to other forms of nursing, except that the nurse works with the patient’s family more often.
How do you become a pediatric nurse?
Though you might have a passion for children and want to work in pediatrics, there are some critical steps to take before entering the field.
Step 1: Get a nursing degree
The first step toward becoming a pediatric nurse involves getting a degree. The two degree types that will qualify you for eligibility as a pediatric nurse are an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). An associate degree program can be completed at a two-year community college. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree will take approximately four years at a university or college. If you have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline, there is an accelerated bachelor’s degree in nursing. This program takes only 11-18 months because most prerequisites and general education requirements have been completed.
Step 2: Obtain licensure
The next step toward becoming a pediatric nurse involves obtaining the appropriate licensure. Nursing graduates must take the NCLEX-RN. This is a standardized test that covers eight main areas of care. These areas include:
- Management of Care/Coordinated Care
- Basic Care and Comfort
- Health Promotion and Maintenance
- Psychosocial Integrity
- Physiological Adaptation
- Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
- Reduction of Risk Potential
- Safety and Infection Control
The test costs approximately $200 if you want a license within the U.S. The RN exam has a minimum of 75 questions and a maximum of 265. RNs have six hours to complete the test.
Step 3: Get a state license
After passing the NCLEX-RN, you’re eligible for licensure to practice as a registered nurse in the U.S.
Step 4: Find a job as a registered nurse
Once you pass the exam, the next step is finding a job as an RN. It’s advised that you try to work in a pediatric unit to gain experience with that demographic. To earn certification within pediatrics, you have to earn 1,800 clinical hours within two years of working in the field.
Step 5: Get certified in pediatric nursing
Pediatric nursing certification is optional, but it could give you a leg up over the competition. The certification for pediatric nurses is called the Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) certification.
Step 6: Continuing education
Most nurses have to pursue continuing education classes to maintain their licenses. Continuing education is a way for nurses to improve their skills and learn new methods within the field. Nurses are required to take them in some states between one and three years. Each state has different continuing education requirements.
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How much do pediatric nurses make?
The pay rate for a pediatric nurse depends on many factors like location, experience, and education. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pediatric nurses make approximately $80,010 per year.
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