Nurse Types / Pediatric Nurse
Some of the smallest patients require the most care and empathy from medical professionals. Nurses who have a passion for helping children may want to consider a career as a pediatric nurse.
Pediatric nurses spend their days treating children from infancy right through their teen years. They can further specialize in serving a subset of the pediatric community or generalize by working with all age groups.
If you’re exploring your options for a nursing career, pediatric nursing may be a good fit. In this article you can learn:
- What is a pediatric nurse?
- What do pediatric nurses do?
- Where do pediatric nurses work?
- What are specific types of pediatric nurses?
- How do you become a pediatric nurse in 3 steps?
- What are additional requirements of pediatric nurses?
- What are the salary and career outlooks for pediatric nurses?
What is a pediatric nurse?
A pediatric nurse is a 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.
Pediatric nurses can work with children experiencing a variety of healthcare issues and medical conditions or specialize in an area of interest.
Qualities of a successful pediatric nurse
All nurses must show compassion toward their patients. However, when your patients are children who may be too young to fully grasp why they’re experiencing pain, it takes a special touch to soothe them.
Some of the qualities of a successful pediatric nurse include:
- Distraction powers. Sometimes to treat medical conditions in children requires drawing blood or doing other unpleasant medical testing that might upset the patient. Pediatric nurses who master the art of distraction can make the experience less scary for children.
- Emotional strength. Being around sick children can hit you right in the heart. To help your young patients persevere, you must remain strong and encourage them.
- Playfulness. Children need to have enjoyment in life, even when they’re battling a disease or illness. Being the fun nurse who helps them forget about being sick can earn you favorite nurse status among your patients.
What do pediatric nurses do?
Pediatric nurses perform many different tasks throughout the day. A lot of them are like the duties of other nurse types.
In this nurse role, you may organize patient workloads and gather patient information. You might help perform examinations and administer vaccines. Depending on where you work, you will have varying responsibilities.
A day in the life of a pediatric nurse
One thing is certain when you become a pediatric nurse. Your shifts are never boring. Working with children can be a rewarding experience, even when your young patients are ill or fighting a debilitating disease.
Some of the tasks you can expect to perform during a regular shift include:
- Caring for children who are chronically and acutely in need of treatment
- Working with a care team to understand the full picture of the patient
- Assessing patients and providing evidence-based interventions
- Administering medications
- Checking growth and development
- Creating care plans for children
- Educating parents and caregivers about wellness practices
Common conditions treated by pediatric nurses
Pediatric nurses can treat patients with common colds or serious medical conditions. Some of the health issues you may see in your patients include:
- Broken/fractured bones
- Cerebral palsy
- Childhood obesity
- Genetic disorders
- Juvenile diabetes
- Seizure disorders
These are just a few of the medical conditions pediatric nurses can handle. Depending on where you work, you may also see patients with childhood cancers and other life-threatening conditions.
Where do pediatric nurses work?
Pediatric nurses work in many different settings. Often, they work in:
- Doctor’s offices
- Clinics (urgent care, family medicine)
- Hospitals (Pediatrics, PICU)
Most pediatric nurses work under a physician or pediatric nurse practitioner who specializes in pediatric or family medicine. In many ways, pediatric nursing bears a similarity to other forms of nursing, except these nurse works with the patient’s entire family more often.
What are specific types of pediatric nurses?
There are more than 20 specialties for pediatric nursing. You can tailor your pediatric nursing position to your interests. Some of the most popular types include:
- Labor and delivery nurses. They have one of the best pediatric nursing jobs around because they get to bring new life into the world.
- Neonatal nurses. They provide care to premature and sick newborns.
- Pediatric ICU nurses. They work with infants, children, and adolescents who are critically injured or ill.
Closely related fields
If you want to work with children in a healthcare setting but aren’t interested in becoming a nurse, you have options. One of the most popular is to become a medical sonographer.
Medical sonographers use sonography technology to focus on children’s health from the womb through adolescence. You’ll need an associate’s degree and certification to work in this closely related field.
How do you become a pediatric nurse in 3 steps?
Step 1 – Become a registered nurse (RN)
Most pediatric nurses have their registered nurse (RN) licenses. While it’s possible to work as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or nurse’s aide in pediatrics, you can advance your career more easily if you pursue a nursing degree.
Earn a degree
The first step toward becoming a pediatric nurse involves earing 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’s 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 of Science in Nursing (ABSN). This program takes only 11-18 months because most prerequisites and general education requirements have been completed.
Registered nurses with ADNs who want to get their BSN degrees can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program to speed up the process.
Pass the NCLEX exam
The next step toward becoming a pediatric nurse involves obtaining the appropriate licensure. Nursing graduates must take the NCLEX-RN.
The NCLEX exam 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 145. You have five hours to complete the test.
Step 2 – Accumulate experience
Once you pass the exam, the next step is finding a job as an RN. You can work in any RN role, but some positions are more advantageous to your career as a pediatric nurse than others.
Helpful skills and experience
Working in the pediatric unit of a hospital or for a pediatrician’s private practice can help you earn the kind of helpful experience needed to advance your career.
To become certified in pediatric nursing, you must earn 1,800 clinical hours within two years of working in the field.
Changing your specialty to pediatric nurse
RNs looking for a change of pace in their nursing careers can considering changing their specialty to pediatric nursing. Taking some continuing education courses that focus on pediatric healthcare is a good first step in making the switch.
You also might need to gain some experience as an RN working in pediatric care so you can obtain the necessary certifications to prove competence in your nursing specialty. One way to get the experience you need is to seek bedside nursing roles in pediatric care units.
Expert advice from nurses like you
Step 3 – Obtain certifications
Pediatric nursing certification is optional, and it could give you a leg up over the competition. The certification for pediatric nurses is called the Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) certification.
What are additional requirements of pediatric nurses?
Most nurses must 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.
What are the salary and career outlooks for pediatric nurses?
The pay rate for a pediatric nurse depends on many factors like location, experience, and education.
However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses generally earn $82,750 per year.
Incredible Health data shows, the average salary of a pediatric nurse is $85,630 – an effective hourly rate of $41.
Like all RNs, demand for pediatric nurses is expected to increase by 6% between 2021 and 2031.
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Pediatric nurses have some of the highest job satisfaction levels among other types of RNs. Pediatric nurses who worked steady day shifts were more pleased with their work than their colleagues who worked all shifts.
After working as a pediatric nurse for a few years, you may decide to pursue an advanced nursing degree like a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). This will allow you to become a pediatric nurse practitioner.
With an advanced degree, you can hold supervisory roles or work as a pediatric nurse educator. Depending on the type of master’s degree you earn, you might even prefer to work in pediatric nursing research.
A pediatric nurse is a registered nurse who works with children in various healthcare settings.
Incredible Health data shows the average salary of a pediatric nurse is $85,630 – an effective hourly rate of $41.
You must earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), then pass the NCLEX exam to earn your RN license. Certification is recommended but not required.
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Top pediatric nurse jobs on Incredible Health
San Francisco, CA | $126,000 to $190,000 /year
Jacksonville, FL | $55,000 to $90,000 /year
Sugar Land, TX | $70,000 to $100,000 /year
San Diego, CA | $82,000 to $120,000 /year
St. Petersburg, FL | $61,000 to $128,000 /year
- A Day in the Life of a Pediatric Nurse. ndm.edu. Accessed November 8, 2022.
- Certified Pediatric Nurse. pncb.org. Accessed November 8, 2022.
- Evaluating the Job Satisfaction of Nurses Working in Pediatric Clinics in Terms of Eleven Dimensions and the Influencing Factors. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed November 8, 2022.
- Occupational Employment and Wages, Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. bls.gov. Accessed November 8, 2022.
- Registered Nurses. bls.gov. Accessed November 8, 2022.