How to Become a Pediatric Nurse

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Pediatrics is an important field of medicine that deals with providing medical care to infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatric nurses are specially trained registered nurses that provide preventative and acute care to pediatric patients in a variety of healthcare settings.


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What does a pediatric nurse do?

Pediatric nurses specialize in providing care to a variety of pediatric patients ranging in ages from birth to 18 years old. They provide primary care such as routine examinations and developmental screenings, treatment of childhood illnesses, administration of immunizations, school physicals, and guidance regarding common health concerns. They also provide acute and specialty care including caring for children who are critically or chronically ill, ordering medications, performing therapeutic treatments, interpreting test results, and performing thorough physical examinations. Pediatric nurses also develop treatment plans and discuss options with family members and caregivers. They provide education and support to families and document the progress of their patients.

What kind of training does a pediatric nurse need?

Pediatric nurses must complete an approved registered nursing program and a specialization in pediatrics. Nursing programs provide extensive classroom instruction and supervised clinical experience. Pediatric nursing courses usually include human growth and development, family centered care, health promotion and maintenance, childhood disorders and diseases, physiology of children and adolescents, and psychosocial and behavioral health of children.

All states require pediatric nurses to be licensed. Licensing requirements include graduating from an approved nursing program and passing a national licensing examination called the NCLEX-RN. Many pediatric nurses also take the examination to become a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) administered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB). Continuing education is required to maintain licensure and pediatric nurses frequently complete continuing education courses and attend conferences, workshops, and seminars.

What are the prospects for a career as a pediatric nurse?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Technological advances and the increase in pediatric patients will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for pediatric nurses with at least a bachelor degree and extensive experience. Many job openings will also arise from the need to replace pediatric nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do pediatric nurses make?

As of October 2009, pediatric nurses with less than 1 year experience earn average annual salaries between $42,253 and $51,395. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $38,322 and $63,918 (2).

A career as a pediatric nurse is an excellent choice for individuals interested in providing nursing care to infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatric nurses must be compassionate, sympathetic, caring, detail-oriented, and open-minded. They must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and be able to carefully explain conditions in ways the patient and the family can understand. Good stress management, emotional stability, and ability to comfort patients and families are also essential.

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