Registered nurses specialize in various fields to provide acute care to patients in segments such as children and adolescent care (pediatrics), elderly and adult (gerontology), newborns (neonatology), and much more. The pediatric nursing program provides specialized training to provide care to children, infants and adolescents. A nurse who specializes in pediatric nursing is called a pediatric nurse. A pediatric nurse also provides special care to children who suffer from critical illnesses related to cardiology or oncology.
Work Environment of Pediatric Nurse
Most registered nurses (RNs) work in comfortable settings in hospitals or healthcare centers but sometimes, they are required to move to other sites. Registered nurses may also have to visit schools, correctional facilities, and military campuses or children’s summer camps to provide healthcare services. The working hours are flexible and more than 20% of the nurses work part time. Some nurses also do other jobs outside of nursing.
The job of a pediatric nurse requires a lot of hard work. It involves hectic schedules and working with newborns or teenagers. To do the job, you will have to join the pediatric department in hospitals or work in clinics. The various duties require the pediatric nurse to be patient and a have a friendly personality which is a great asset for working with little children. The nurse will also have to educate the parents of the children or infants regarding medical or surgical processes and treatments.
Responsibilities and Challenges Faced by a Pediatric Nurse
- A pediatric nurse has many different responsibilities. At the doctor’s office, the nurse may have to do checkups or administer vaccinations. They will have to answer to the queries of parents and educate parents and children to take care of their health.
- Pediatric nurses can work in home-care and sometimes, they provide therapies and ventilator care. Sometimes, they have to work with mentally ill children, and it can be emotionally tough for them.
- Some nurses don’t like to work as pediatric nurses because it can be very upsetting to handle patients who are highly uncooperative. It can be hard to explain certain things to children. The nurse may have to suffer severe emotional situations when the children are critically ill.
- Pediatric oncology nurses have to deal with children who are suffering from diseases such as cancer and it can be painful to see children suffer. The nurses have to be strong to be able to handle the children when they fight or cry out against vaccination or a particular treatment.
- Sometimes, the patients create some trouble or accident for the nurse who may suffer injuries. Sometimes, the nurse is exposed to harmful radiations and chemicals. Pediatric nurses may suffer injuries while moving patients or dealing with uncooperative patients.
A good pediatric nurse can help children learn things easily. The job has flexible working hours and working conditions. It’s a highly rewarding career for nurses who love to work with children. Another requirement is creativity so that complex situations can be handled amiably.
To be a specialized nurse in pediatrics, you will have to undergo nursing education from an accredited nursing school and become a Registered Nurse (RN). You will have to pursue a degree in an LPN program or RN program as well. The pediatric nurse will have to take the exam to get certification in pediatrics. To qualify for the certification exam, you have to complete a required number of hours in training as an RN or LPN. While it’s not necessary to get advanced education in pediatrics to be a pediatric nurse, most hospitals prefer nurses who have acquired the necessary training.
Options in RN programs and LPN Programs
- In all the states, you are required to be a graduate in a nursing program and you should have passed the licensed nursing programs to be eligible for nurse jobs to pursue a nursing career in pediatrics.
- Some licensed nurses are licensed in more than one state and the license is issued either through exams or through endorsement programs.
- The states also provide renewal of licenses so that you can continue practicing as a pediatric nurse.
- To obtain nursing education, you can even join online nursing programs. Online LPN programs and online RN programs are becoming more popular because they offer a convenient and flexible way for people to pursue a degree in nursing, which is required in most nursing occupations.
Training and Exam for Getting a Certification in Pediatric Nursing
To become a pediatric nurse, you will have to pass the CPN (Certified Pediatric Nurse) exam. You can only take this exam after you have completed the RN program and gathered some working experience. A CPN certification is considered to be an advantage for a nurse as it can help you get a higher salary compared to a normal nursing degree. It also provides advancement opportunities.
Salary of a Pediatric Nurse
The pediatric nurse gets a starting salary of $30,000 annually depending on the educational qualification and work experience. In some states, the salary can be more than $40,000 per annum. Veteran nurses can earn more than $80,000 a year. You need to have more than 20 years’ experience to earn a very high salary. When a pediatric nurse becomes highly experienced, he or she can obtain training to be able to write prescriptions, just like a physician. A pediatric nurse can also give assessments of X-rays and medical tests related to children and adults.
How to Get Started?
- Firstly, you need to pass the NCLEX-RN examination and become a Registered Nurse. You need to work as a registered nurse with a reputed organization to get the experience certificate to be eligible to sit for the CPN examination. You can also pursue online RN programs to become a registered nurse. After getting work experience/training, you can apply to sit for the CPN examination.
- You need to fill the registration fee and pay the examination fee to take the exam.
- During the exam, you will have to provide answers to assessment questions of health promotion, management, chronic care, and professional roles.
- If you pass the exam, you will be eligible to work as a CPN in hospitals and healthcare institutions. You can apply for various positions in children’s hospitals or pediatric clinics to work as a pediatric nurse.
Follow these links to find out more about pediatric nursing.
- Becoming a Pediatric Nurse
- Credentials for Pediatric Nursing
- Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
- NCLEX Examinations
- National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program
- Journal of Pediatric Nursing
- Hazard Datasheet on Pediatric Nurse (PDF)
- PNP Program at University of Virginia