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A Nurse's Guide to Pediatrics

Unlike adults, infants and children require specialized medical care and treatment that is customized to their personal requirements. Pediatric nurses are in great demand when it comes to medical treatments for children. Many pediatric nurses cite their passion for working with children and families as one of the main attractions of their jobs. Interestingly, a 2011 Nursing Solutions Inc. report indicates that within the entire field of nursing, the lowest turnover rates were recorded for pediatric nurses.

Pediatric Careers

Pediatric nurses are essentially registered nurses who focus on medical care for children and infants in many different types of healthcare institutions. This includes walk-in clinics, hospitals, pediatrician clinics, mental health institutes, and more. The three most common places for a pediatric nurse to work in are schools, dedicated children's hospitals, and pediatrician clinics. These types of workplaces often allow new nurses to take on additional training on the job to learn about caring for children in a medical setting.

On the Job

Working as a pediatric nurse is not only focused on the child patient, but it also largely involves the family. Pediatric nurses need to know how to work with the family to improve the child's condition, as well as comfort and inform them. Different approaches might be required to care for the young patient, depending on their age, illness, and personality. It is not only limited to medical treatment but also requires nurses to comfort and cheer up their young patients. Children can be especially vulnerable and fearful when it comes to hospitals and medical treatment centers, and they require medical staff who can help to allay their fears and worries. According to the setting, a pediatric nurse might find themselves involved in a wide range of activities and care procedures. For example, those in a hospital might have to work with children suffering from severe or chronic conditions, while those in a school setting would typically see more generalized childhood illnesses.

Education and Training

While a bachelor's degree in nursing is a core requirement, nurses can then go on to specialize through different educational courses. After gaining some work experience, registered nurses can apply to the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) for a specialized certificate in pediatric nursing. Alternatively, many educational institutions offer masters degrees for those interested in advanced-practice pediatric nursing. Some specialties include emergency medical child care, children's mental health, school nursing, and childhood behavior. Urgent care clinics often require nurses to have a certification in critical care in order to be eligible for employment.

Pediatric Career Specialties

Apart from the educational specialties, there are many other ways for pediatric nurses to focus on different sectors. Home healthcare is especially important for children who require ongoing professional care at home. Nurses who enjoy working with babies and new mothers might consider specialties within the labor and delivery departments of hospitals, lactation consulting, neonatal intensive care unit, or pediatric care in emergency wards. Other specialties include school nurses or school medical administrators, child abuse prevention specialists, and sleep clinic nurse practitioners. For each of these fields, experience in related settings is extremely helpful. School nurses tend to work autonomously, so they should have sufficient experience in common and emergency child medical conditions. They need to be vigilant in alerting parents or guardians to medical conditions that may have been overlooked at home. At sleep clinics, pediatric nurses work along with physicians to help children who suffer from serious sleep disorders, such as severe night terrors, insomnia and snoring. On the other hand, a pediatric nurse who specializes in child abuse prevention works along with parents to reduce instances of deliberate and accidental child abuse.

Finding Work

Pediatric registered nurses usually find it easiest to procure a job within children's hospitals or in medical centers that are dedicated to children. There are specialist children's hospitals across the United States in major urban hubs. Schools, walk-in clinics, and pediatrician offices are the next most likely places to find work as a pediatric nurse.

Average Compensation

Salaries for pediatric nurses vary significantly based on their location, education, experience levels, and specialties. Salary levels can fall within a range of $20,000 for entry-level nurses to as much as $117,000 for more established nurses. Areas such as New York and California see a wide range between the lowest to highest income levels for pediatric nurses, while states such as Georgia, Texas, and Florida have averages falling between $40,000 and $80,000. The medical setting is another factor that influences salary levels. In general, hospital salaries tend to be higher than those of private practices or private clinics. A pediatric nurse's experience weighs heavily on their income levels, especially for those with ten or more years of work experience. Specialties such as pediatric endocrinology nursing can typically average a salary at around $80,000, while critical care can range up to $119,000. Keep in mind that these types of specialties do require additional certification in order to be practiced.