Pediatric Nurse: Career Summary, Occupational Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Pediatric nurses provide preventive and acute nursing care to children and adolescents in doctor's offices and hospitals. Find out the average salary, job requirements and education needed to become a pediatric nurse. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Pediatric Nurse Do?

A pediatric nurse's primary role is working with children and adolescents in a variety of situations and medical facilities. To be a pediatric nurse, you'll be trained as a nurse and in advanced techniques handling small children. In addition, you'll have knowledge to work in a number of settings, including schools, emergency departments, pediatric wards and family practitioner offices.

If you're employed with primary care services, such as doctors' offices, health care clinics or schools, your routines may include conducting routine developmental screenings, administering immunizations and promoting healthy lifestyle choices. If you choose to work in an acute care setting, such as an intensive care unit or emergency room, you may perform in-depth assessments, interpret the results of diagnostic tests and provide treatments. Your duties may also include aiding doctors in the emergency or operating room.

How Does this Career Look?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) did not use specific categories for different types of nurses in its most recent statistics. The BLS reported that employment opportunities for all registered nurses would grow by approximately 581,500 between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). That was an expected 22% increase. You might look for some of these job opportunities through the Society of Pediatric Nurses, which provides job listings for pediatric nurse openings across the country (www.pednurses.org). The average salary for registered nurses in 2009 was $66,530, according to the BLS, but specific salary data for pediatric nurses was not available. Medical and surgical hospitals employed the largest percentage of registered nurses.

What Should I Study?

To become a specialized nurse, such as a pediatric nurse, you'll first need to earn your bachelor's degree in nursing. These programs teach you the essentials of working as a nurse and include instruction in patient care, communications, anatomy, health assessment, healthcare systems and ethics in nursing. After completing a nursing degree and becoming a registered nurse (RN), you'll want to gain experience in the field you wish to work. In this case, a master's degree program as a pediatric nurse practitioner should be considered.

Not only is a master's degree required by some credentialing agencies, but this program also provides plenty of clinical time in pediatrics. In this program you'll study child development and pediatric medicine. Your program may include subjects like pharmacology, adolescent health, working with pediatric clients, handling grief and bereavement, victimology, decision-making and health promotion.

What Certification Should I Seek?

The first step in certification will be to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. This exam and the NCLEX-PN, for licensed practical nurses, are offered through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. After you earn your nursing license, you can then prepare to earn one of the national pediatric certifications. The American Nurses Credentialing Center certification exam can be taken if you are a licensed RN, have a master's degree and have additional training in health promotion or diagnostics (www.nursecredentialing.org). The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board offers a certification exam for five pediatric subspecialties, including acute care, emergency care and adolescent mental health (www.pncb.org).

You can also seek the Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certification offered through the American Heart Association (www.heart.org). This training is good for pediatric nurses who are interested in first-time training or renewing their knowledge of ambulatory care.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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