Pediatric nurses are registered, licensed nurses who specialize in treating children and adolescent patients. A registered nurse can specialize in various ways, by either focusing on specific health conditions, by work setting, by body system type, or by working with a specific segment of the population, like pediatric registered nurses. A pediatric registered nurse provides preventive care as well as care for immediate illness and can work in various settings as they focus on one segment of the population. Focusing on children and adolescents, pediatric nurses can also work in schools, summer camps, or even correctional facilities, in addition to doctors’ offices, hospitals, or clinics. Providing care to newborn babies, as well as toddlers, adolescents and teenagers could be both more fun than an ordinary day in nursing, as well as more challenging! In addition to nursing skills, pediatric nurses need to be able to be gentle, patient, creative, and at times playful with little patients who do not always have the understanding or patience to cope with what they are going through at the hospital or pediatrician’s office.
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Some duties that are part of a pediatric nurse’s day include well child examinations, school physicals, as well as assessments for sick visits, giving immunization shots, performing routine screenings, and educating patients and their parents about any illness, medication, or treatment. A pediatric nurse also provides nursing care for children and adolescents who are chronically or acutely ill, providing assessments, screenings, and aiding physicians in interpreting laboratory results and in explaining treatment or medications.
Pediatric Nursing Education
Earning a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is preferred by many employers over a two-year Associate Degree of Nursing (ASN), though either is possible to become a registered nurse. Taking your licensure examination from your state’s board of nursing is also a necessary step once you earn your degree. When you have completed your education and become a licensed, registered nurse, becoming certified is the next important step toward a pediatric nurse career. Pediatric nurse certification is awarded by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. Pediatric nurse certification is not legally required to work as a pediatric nurse the way state licensing is, however it is increasingly being treated as a requirement by hiring hospitals and clinics. Becoming a certified pediatric nurse (CPN) demonstrates your commitment to pediatric nursing, keeping current with the field, and demonstrates your knowledge to your co-workers, supervising physicians, patients and their families. Pediatric nurse certification can also greatly increase your job prospects and possibly your salary.
Pediatric Nurse Salaries and Job Outlook
The average salary for a pediatric nurse will vary based on geographic location and employer as well as experience and degree. According to payscale.com, a new pediatric nurse with under one year of experience can earn anywhere from $31,093 to $51,395. This range jumps to an average range of $39,305 to $63,918 at just five years of pediatric nursing experience. Larger hospitals generally offer higher salaries than smaller hospitals serving rural populations. Pediatric nurses generally enjoy good health insurance and benefits on top of their salary.
The outlook for nursing is outstanding, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nursing is projected to be one of the fastest growing professions for many years, and focusing on a specific segment of the population, like pediatric nursing, will ensure that you will most always have a secure niche in a broad and growing field. The potential for further specialization within pediatric nursing is also great, and can include pediatric oncology, pediatric cardiology, or pediatric emergency nursing, to give a few examples. Advancement is also an option down the line in your career. If you earn a master’s degree with a focus on pediatrics, you can become a pediatric nurse practitioner.
There are professional associations you could join for pediatric nursing job assistance, networking, continuing education opportunities, and overall career guidance, such as the Society of Pediatric Nurses, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, as well as state chapters of these national organizations. If you are a nurse or planning on becoming one and think you would enjoy working with young children, get started on your nursing degree and consider the pediatric nursing field. Pediatric nursing is a unique specialty that offers many avenues, advancement, and great personal rewards.
(Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Society of Pediatric Nurses, Pediatric Nursing Certification Board)