If children are the hope of the future, pediatric nurses help secure our future by helping children achieve their potential. Pediatric nurses, along with pediatricians and health care workers, provide specialized health care, and play a special role in boosting the health of young patients.
The work of pediatric nurses and pediatric professionals is essential to the well-being of infants, children, and adolescents. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 4.3% of children below 18 years old do not have a reliable source of health care.
Perhaps you are interested in pediatrics to help meet the growing health care needs of children. Read on to discover how you can become a pediatric nurse.
What Is a Pediatric Nurse?
The Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN) states that a pediatric nurse is a Registered Nurse (RN) or Nurse Practitioner (NP) who specializes in nursing care for children of all ages. The young patients of a pediatric nurse typically range from newborn infants and toddlers to children and adolescents.
Pediatric nurses focus on various types of illnesses, diseases, and injuries that commonly affect babies and children. These nurses should be equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to identify and treat all sorts of health conditions. That’s why you need to undergo education, training, and certification before you can become a pediatric nurse.
How to Become a Pediatric Nurse
Are you considering pursuing a career as a pediatric nurse? You should first prepare to be a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Nurse Practitioner (NP) by enrolling in a nursing program that fits your career goals.
The minimum educational requirements you need to become an RN is an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). To become an NP, you need to attain a postgraduate degree like a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP). It would be helpful if you can take classes or tracks related to pediatric nursing.
After you graduate from a nursing program, the next step is to attain a professional license as a nurse. You must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become a licensed nurse.
Once you have become an official RN or NP, you should take one of the pediatric nursing certification exams administered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) to become a pediatric nurse.
You have the option of seeking accreditation as one of the following:
- Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN): A Registered Nurse (RN) with certification that validates his or her expertise in pediatric nursing beyond basic RN knowledge
- Primary Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-PC): A Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) who is qualified to provide pediatric primary health care to children starting from birth up to their young adult years
- Acute Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-AC): A PNP who offers family-oriented pediatric care to young patients experiencing acute, critical, chronic, and complex sicknesses
- Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS): An Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) who specializes in pediatric care for children and adolescents with mental and behavioral health conditions
Responsibilities of a Pediatric Nurse
Once you become a pediatric nurse, you will have the essential role of providing patient care for infants, children, and adolescents. Here are some of the work responsibilities you may be expected to fulfill on a regular basis as a nurse with a pediatric specialty:
- Performing assessments on young patients’ health conditions
- Administering medications and treatments to babies, kids, and preteens
- Working together with pediatricians, family physicians, and other health care professionals
- Updating charts and records with information on the medical history of juvenile patients
- Assisting in performing diagnostic tests for infants, children, and adolescents
- Educating and teaching the parents and families of young patients how to manage sickness and injuries
As a pediatric nurse, you will have some tasks that are similar to other RNs and NPs. However, you will need extra care and attention as you fulfill your duties because children have different health needs compared to adult patients. In your line of work, you will have to coordinate more with their parents and guardians because underage patients require the support and guidance of their families as they undergo medical assessments and treatments.
Salary and Job Outlook of a Pediatric Nurse
As a pediatric nurse, your specific income will depend on several factors, such as your employer, your qualifications, and your nursing license.
Pediatric nurses who are licensed as RNs earn an average salary of $73,300 per year and $35.24 an hour, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the other hand, pediatric nurses who are licensed as NPs and other types of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) earn an average income of $115,800 per year and $55.67 per hour.
It’s a viable career option to become a pediatric nurse, especially since the demand for nurses is rising. Employment for RNs and APRNs is projected to increase by 7% and 45% respectively between 2019 and 2029.
As a pediatric nurse, you can work in many different types of health care settings, such as private clinics, hospitals, pediatric intensive care units (PICU), schools, surgical centers, and community organizations.
The Perks of Becoming a Pediatric Nurse
The best part of becoming a pediatric nurse is the opportunity to play a role in improving and maintaining the health of children. By giving young patients a shot at good health, you are giving them the opportunity to grow up and fulfill their dreams.
Another perk of becoming a pediatric nurse is belonging to a community of colleagues who share your passion for health care for children. You can join nursing organizations that offer professional support to pediatric nurses, health care workers, and educators involved in the pediatric field. For example, you can become a member of the Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN), the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP), or the Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (AFPNP).
While preparing for your future job as a pediatric nurse, you can easily gain work experience as a nurse or health care professional with the help of Clipboard Health.