The Job of a Pediatric Nurse

If you love kids, don’t mind hard work, have patience, are friendly and have a great smile, pediatric nursing could be for you. A pediatric nurse is an RN or practitioner who has gained experience and qualified specifically in the nursing of children.

Pediatric Nurse Philosophy

Children will lack comprehension about what is happening to them and may find it hard to articulate pain and symptoms. In addition, children’s bodies work differently than adults and as a result, require different nursing techniques and skills.

Pediatric nurses understand the differences between nursing children and general nursing. Although a pediatric nurse specializes in children, they will also need the right kind of attitude to deal with the parents involved – it can be an emotional time for them if the prognosis isn’t good. One of the distinctive features of pediatric nursing is the amount of interaction you have with the child’s family as part of the care giving process. Particularly in cases of long illnesses or long term injuries, as a pediatric nurse you will need to share your skills with those who look after the child at home. You’ll have the ability to give confidence to the family which will allow them to fully participate in the care. You’ll also have to know when to stand back and when to step in to take over.

Education and Expected Salary

To specialize in pediatrics you must first be a registered nurse and then have to decide between two career paths to follow. Both require that you have practical experience before you become certificated. The requirements do vary by state so be sure to check with the state nursing board before deciding which path you’ll take.

  • The College Route: You’ll first get a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Once qualified you need to get a job in a pediatric department, hospital or clinic. You can then enroll in a Master of Science in Nursing Degree course that includes specialized coursework in Pediatrics. Armed with your degrees and experience you’ll then be able to sit the Certified Pediatric Nurse Exam.
  • The Employment Route: After qualifying as a Registered Nurse, you can get a job in a pediatric department and while working study for the Certified Pediatric Nursing exam. There might also be the opportunity to enroll in a pediatric internship program which might last from three months to a year but will teach you the specific skills required to become a children’s nurse.

The average salary of a pediatric nurse is currently $69,000 with a median of $57,000.

Scope of Pediatric Nursing Jobs

As pediatric nursing is specific to a segment of the population, jobs only exist in facilities that provide healthcare to children. Most of those jobs are in hospitals. An MD or General practitioner’s clinic may have a large enough juvenile patient list to warrant a dedicated pediatric nurse, but this is not common. Jobs are also available in schools or other institutions such as children’s homes and orphanages.

There may be opportunities to progress to Head of Pediatric Nursing in large institutions but there is no aggressive career path. Ambitious pediatric nurses often return to general nursing or other specialty areas to move on in their careers, although pediatric nurses can specialize further in subjects like pediatric cardiology, while others complement their nursing qualifications with courses in child psychology.

Roles of a Pediatric Nurse

The role of a pediatric nurse is as wide as the needs of any infant, child or adolescent in a health setting, both physical and emotional.

Common duties include:

  • Gathering and recording data including family history
  • Performing basic medical functions such as blood tests, urine samples, blood pressure, heart monitoring and requesting the lab tests.
  • Interpreting results and recommending actions in conjunction with the treatment team
  • Carrying out the medication, treatment and other procedures as directed by the pediatrician or leading physician.
  • Educating and training the child’s primary caregiver in administering treatment outside the care facility.

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