Are you passionate about helping children who are sick or injured? A career as a pediatric nurse may be the right fit for you.
Pediatric nurses are tasked with providing preventive and acute care for and infants, children and adolescents. The job entails performing physical examinations, measuring vital statistics, taking blood and urine samples, ordering diagnostic tests, and providing child health care to their patients’ families. Aside from these duties, pediatric nurses also help explain procedures, illnesses and medications to patients’ families, administer medication, record their patients’ vital signs and temperature, update patient records and files, operate medical equipment, and provide support and advice to their patients and their families.
Hospitals, medical offices, doctors’ clinics, surgical centers, and other health care and emergency settings all employ pediatric nurses. Pediatric nurses may also work in schools, in private practice or community groups or organizations that provide preventive health care services for children.
Pediatric nurses work closely with pediatricians, physicians and other health care providers. Their specialized training enables them to effectively talk to children and dispel their fears; pediatric nurses know what questions to ask in order to assess a child’s condition, in order to gather complete and accurate information which will help them do diagnose and treat them properly.
There are different types of pediatric nursing specialties and positions. Below are only some of them:
- Pediatric Registered Nurse (Peds RN)
- Pediatric Emergency Room Nurse (Peds ER RN)
- Pediatric Operating Room Registered Nurse (Peds OR RN)
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
- Pediatric Critical Care Registered Nurse
How to Become a Pediatric Nurse
In order to become a pediatric nurse, you must first become a licensed registered nurse. You can achieve this by earning an associate’s degree in nursing, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing from accredited academic institutions, or by obtaining a nursing diploma from a hospital that offers this type of program. After graduating from a nursing educational program, the next step would be taking and passing the NCLEX-RN in order to obtain licensure.
Registered nurses who are interested in working in the field of pediatric nursing must expect to spend a significant amount of time working with children, either in the pediatric department of a hospital, or the office of a pediatrician or family doctor.
Important Qualities for a Pediatric Nurse
Communication Skills – Children usually struggle with relaying information so pediatric nurses need to know how to speak to them and put them at ease. They must be able to ask effective questions that will enable them to obtain accurate information about the child’s condition in order to diagnose and treat them accordingly. Good communication skills are also required in order to teach parents how to care for their sick or injured child.
Emotional Stability – It can be doubly stressful working with young patients, and children can pick up on an adult’s subtle emotional cues, so a pediatric nurse must be able to stay calm under pressure and retain their ability to smile through even the most distressing situations so as not to cause their patients further distress.
Detail Oriented – Pediatric nurses must ensure precise documentation, as well as proper administration of medication. They must also be able to carry out delicate tasks such as taking blood samples or inserting catheters.
Critical Thinking – This job entails making appropriate treatment decisions and dealing with emergencies effectively.
Pediatric Nursing Licenses, Certifications and Registrations
All states require registered nurses to have valid licenses, which can be achieved by passing the NCLEX-RN. Some states, or some employers, may have additional licensing requirements for pediatric nurses. However, you can pursue specialized training toward a certificate in pediatric nursing which will signify your knowledge and skills in the field. There are multiple organizations that offer certification, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.
Those who wish to advance their career may earn a Master’s degree in nursing to become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) or a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) in Pediatrics. Upon completion of the master’s degree, graduates must take an exam and meet state certification and continuing education requirements.