How to Become a Pediatric Nurse in 5 Steps

Pediatric nurses have special training that qualifies them to care for children and adolescents. Find out about the education and licensure requirements for becoming a pediatric nurse, and learn about clinical training and certification options. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Pediatric Nurse Do?

As a pediatric nurse, you'll provide care to sick and healthy children. Along with running diagnostic tests, you'll administer immunizations and make initial readings of test results. Comforting families, answering questions and consulting with pediatricians are a few instances where you'll use communication skills. Your duties may include monitoring children of all ages, discussing medical history with parents and assisting pediatricians in procedures.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that you must have an associate's or bachelor's degree to become a nurse (www.bls.gov). While an associate's degree is sufficient to become a registered nurse (RN), a bachelor's degree program in nursing prepares you for career advancement and for opportunities in more specialized nursing areas. You'll study pharmacology, medical terminology, healthcare systems, anatomy, physiology, psychology and health assessment. If you're already an RN and you've completed clinical training, you may be able to find an RN-to-BSN program online.

Step 2: Complete a Clinical Experience

Many undergraduate degree programs include clinical practica in nursing. This experience allows you to practice common nursing duties and patient care skills. You'll learn common medical terms and coding used in hospitals and physicians' offices.

Step 3: Become Certified as a Nurse

The first step to becoming a certified pediatric nurse is to become a registered nurse (RN). The National Council of State Boards of Nursing provides the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN (to become a licensed practical nurse) licensing examinations. You can sit for this exam at any Pearson VUE testing center; locations can be found on the Pearson VUE website (www9.pearsonvue.com).

Step 4: Earn a Master's Degree

If you're interested in becoming an advanced-practice pediatric nursing practitioner (PNP), you'll need to continue your education through a master's degree program in pediatric care. PNPs' jobs differ from those of pediatric nurses, in that PNPs perform much more advanced procedures, and they wore more closely with physicians than do pediatric RNs. Some colleges offer different pediatric programs in acute nursing or primary care. This program teaches you the essentials of working with children and adolescents. Not only will you focus on the basics of nursing, but you'll also learn about the illnesses and diseases children are commonly diagnosed with. Health promotion skills are also essential to your education. You'll also complete a clinical with a pediatric care unit.

Step 5: Become Certified

Unlike nursing licenses, certification can be obtained through a number of sources. The two accepted certifications come from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The PNCB offers five pediatric nursing certifications, including one for pediatric nurses and two for PNPs (www.pncb.org). To earn the Certified Pediatric Nurse designation, you'll need to be a licensed RN, and you'll have to prove that you've worked in a pediatric nursing capacity for at least 1800 hours during the past two years. PNP certification is available in both primary care and acute care, and for this level you'll need to hold RN licensure and be a graduate of a master's or doctoral degree-level PNP program. The ANCC's certifications are similar, and they have requirements comparable to the PNCB's certifications.

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