What is a Pediatric Nurse?

A pediatric nurse specializes in assessing, managing, and treating infant and child healthcare needs.

It includes helping children with various injuries, illnesses, medical ailments, and special needs.

Pediatric nurses sometimes continue to provide medical care to children from infancy to mid-late teen years.

As a result, they play a vital role in healthcare among families with children requiring specific medical care and attention.

What Do Pediatric Nurses Do?

Pediatric nurses perform numerous duties to ensure infants and children receive adequate medical care.

For instance, these healthcare professionals collect healthcare information, perform physical assessments, monitor vitals, administer medications and provide treatments.

They also educate parents on healthcare procedures, how to provide adequate care, and offer them emotional support.

Because pediatric nurses specialize in child care, they have lots of training and hands-on experience comforting children.

These specialists understand how to treat children and comfort them during assessments, procedures, or treatments.

Specializing in pediatric care also lets them stay updated on the latest procedures and practices related to their field.

Pediatric Nurse Responsibilities:

  • Educate parents on procedures and treatments
  • Stay updated on childcare practices and procedures
  • Provide treatments and interventions
  • Collect healthcare information
  • Perform physical assessments
  • Monitor patient vitals
  • Administer medications
  • Provide emotional support

A pediatric nurse’s responsibilities depend on their discipline, department, and employer’s needs.

As a result, two pediatric nurses may treat infants/children with very different healthcare needs and medical conditions.

Where Do Pediatric Nurses Work?

Pediatric nurses typically operate in pediatric settings and institutions with pediatric departments.

It includes hospitals, community clinics, physician and nurse practitioner offices, 

They also operate in departments such as NICU units, pediatric critical care units, and pediatric oncology wards.

Occupational Settings:

  • Community clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Physician offices
  • Nurse practitioner offices
  • NICU units
  • Pediatric critical care units
  • Pediatric oncology wards

The duties a pediatric nurse performs vary depending on their specialization and department.

For instance, pediatric oncology nurses specialize in treating young cancer patients.

Non-oncology nurses may prove more generalized care.

Pediatric nurse practitioners have more authority and responsibilities than previously mentioned specializations.

It enables them to prescribe medications and treatment plans, diagnose conditions and act as primary care providers.

Pediatric Nurse Salary

In terms of income, the average salary for a pediatric nurse in the United States is around $76,000 per year.

Nevertheless, salaries range from $62,436 and $97,015, depending on numerous factors.

It includes education, experience, job title, location, performance, compensation, accrued perks, and employee benefits.

Being a pediatric nurse requires patience, education, and a strong desire to work with children and families.

These specialists help parents give their children healthy and prosperous lives from early birth until adulthood.

How to Become a Pediatric Nurse

Becoming a pediatric nurse is extremely rewarding for those who want to help infants/children lead happy, healthy lives.

Nevertheless, it requires a lot of education, hands-on training, and the right mindset to operate effectively in this field.

The following section provides the steps necessary to become a pediatric nurse.

1. Join a Nursing Program

The first step to becoming a pediatric nurse is to join a nursing program.

To join a nursing program, students must pass numerous prerequisite courses.

They must also maintain a good GPA, as most colleges have limited seating and decent competition.

Nursing students accepted into the program can pursue either an ADN or BSN degree.

2. Earn an ADN or BSN

The two-year associate’s degree in nursing takes approximately 18 – 14 months to complete.

This degree provides students with a fundamental nursing education.

It’s excellent for those who want to quickly enter the nursing field, gain experience and earn money.

However, this degree is primarily beneficial for those entering entry-level jobs.

Nurses who wish to specialize in different careers like pediatric care may want to obtain their four-year BSN.

Many healthcare institutions also prefer registered nurses with a BSN due to the additional training and education.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree takes approximately 36 – 48 months to finish.

It provides students with a more comprehensive nursing education and enables them to specialize in numerous fields.

Nurses with a BSN specialize in pediatrics, research, legal consulting, case management, flight nursing, and other disciplines.

3. Pass the NCLEX-RN

After completing the nursing program, students must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain licensure.

Obtaining licensure enables them to become registered nurses, which is necessary to specialize in pediatric nursing.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing administers the NCLEX exam.

This exam tests the competencies of graduates to ensure they have adequate training to work effectively in entry-level jobs.

4. Obtain Work Experience

Obtaining work experience is essential for all registered nursing specializations.

As a result, it’s highly beneficial to operate in direct care at a hospital or healthcare facility.

Working in a pediatric setting and pursuing related continuing education courses is also advantageous.

After two years of direct care experience, registered nurses can apply for Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) certification.

5. Get Certified

As mentioned, registered nurses with sufficient experience can obtain Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) certification.

This certification ensures they have adequate training, experience, and expertise to provide effective pediatric care.

The pediatric nursing certification board administers the exam to qualify experienced registered nurses. 

Postgraduate Education

RNs pursuing postgraduate education can earn their MSN to become pediatric nurse practitioners.

These advanced practice registered nurses have a much broader scope of practice.

It enables them to diagnose various health conditions, prescribe medications, and act as primary care providers.

Pediatric nurse practitioners can also independently own and operate offices to provide direct care to infants/children.

Nevertheless, a pediatric nurse practitioner’s scope of practice and independence varies depending on the state.

Full-practice states offer the most independence regarding healthcare practices and procedures.

Limited and restricted states have additional laws, restrictions, and compliances nurse practitioners must satisfy.

Pediatric Nurse vs. Pediatric Oncology Nurse

Pediatric nurses and oncology nurses care for infants and young children requiring medical care.

However, pediatric oncology nurses specialize in treating young patients with severe complications.

It often includes treating patients with cancers or tumors but may include other healthcare conditions.

Comparatively, pediatric nurses (non-oncology) provide more generalized care instead of specializing in treating cancer patients.

Treating infants and children with cancer is very different from helping adult oncology patients.

As a result, pediatric oncology nurses receive specialized training to manage young cancer patients effectively.

Registered Nurse vs. Nurse Practitioner

There are numerous differences between a registered nurse specializing in pediatrics and a pediatric nurse practitioner.

For instance, registered nurses specialing in pediatrics can assess an infant/child’s condition.

However, they cannot perform a diagnosis of the infant/child’s conditions or prescribe treatment plans.

Registered nurses can also administer medications but do not have prescriptive authority.

As a result, a certified nurse practitioner or physician must prescribe the medications.

Some pediatric nurse practitioners operate as primary care providers in full-practice states.

It enables them to provide patient care without needing a physician to diagnose and treat the infant/child.

Registered nurses typically play a supportive role under the supervision of a physician or pediatric nurse practitioner.

Physicians and nurse practitioners operate at a higher level enabling them to hire and oversee various medical staff.

Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Nurse (PICU)

Pediatric intensive care unit nurses operate in the intensive care division of hospitals and healthcare facilities.

These nurses specialize in treating pediatric patients with severe and life-threating medical conditions.

As a result, they must provide additional treatment, attention, and medical care to their young patients.

Pediatric intensive care unit nurses perform similar duties to other pediatric nurses.

They perform physical assessments, monitor vitals, administer medications and provide treatments.

Nevertheless, working with infants/children with more severe conditions require further support and expertise.

PICU nurses typically work with fewer patients to ensure they receive adequate attention.

They also spend more time monitoring patients and providing treatments and interventions to manage their conditions.

Why Pediatric Nurses are Important

Pediatric nurse practitioners enable families to establish practical child healthcare plans and treatment approaches.

These specialists develop long-term relationships with families so they can receive essential care.

It ensures the child obtains the best care possible through consistent medical diagnosis and medical history assessments.

It also makes it easier for the child, parents, and healthcare providers to understand their medical condition and needs.

Pediatric nurse practitioners understand which medications and treatments work and which are ineffective.

If parents had to routinely find a different healthcare specialist, understanding their children’s needs would be difficult.

It would also reduce the parent and healthcare provider’s understanding of the child’s ailments and medical condition.

Accordingly, experts often recommend parents stay with a well-trained pediatric healthcare specialist.

Nevertheless, there are times when it is beneficial to seek a second or third opinion.

Seeking a second opinion ensures the child receives medical assessments from multiple perspectives.

Receiving multiple perspectives helps families find the best solutions for specific medical conditions or ailments.

Aside from the medical aspects, pediatric nurses understand how to communicate effectively with children and families.

Communication is a vital component of pediatric care.

As a result, these specialists develop communication skills to explain complex medical terms and conditions more easily.

It allows them to help children and parents better comprehend difficult-to-understand conditions and treatments.