Pediatric Nursing + Careers, Salary & Jobs Outlook
A pediatric nurse is a highly skilled health care professional who devotes her career to caring for children – from infancy and into the later teen years. This type of nurse has advanced medical training in pediatrics and works closely with doctors and other types of health care workers who are also dedicated to the health of children.
As with other nurses, a pediatric nurse can do physical examinations, measure vital signs, take samples of blood and urine and order many diagnostic tests. Nurses with advanced training in pediatrics can also interpret results from tests and come up with a diagnosis. Then they can offer treatment plans.
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Many parents will prefer that their children are treated by health care professionals who are specialists in pediatrics. This is because children have specific health care needs due to their small size, and the fact that their bodies are changing and growing. They also often will react different to illnesses and injuries, and their reactions to drugs can be very different as well.
Children also become frightened in medical situations and are not always able to communicate what is hurting. Pediatric nurses have been trained to communicate effectively with children and are effective at dispelling their fears. Pediatric nurses also are effective at asking children about their overall health, so they can get complete information to aid in diagnosis.
Where Pediatric Nurses Work
Many pediatric nurses work in a doctor’s office. Others work in clinics, surgical centers, hospitals, public health clinics, community centers and other types of health care settings. The skills of pediatric nurses help to give comfort to children and parents who are getting treated in acute care settings, which can include the neonatal department, the PICU, or pediatric critical care unit, and also the pediatric oncology department.
Many pediatric nurses also work in primary schools, in private practices with other nurses, and for many community groups that provide preventive care for children. Usually, a pediatric nurse will work closely with a doctor who specializes in pediatric medicine. Wherever the pediatric nurse works, he or she will usually have higher interaction with the family of the young patient than with other patients.
Job Opportunities & Salary Outlook
The Department of Labor has been reporting for years that the demand for nursing professionals will increase by 26% by 2020. This is being driven by the aging population who are demanding more health care services, as they lead longer and more productive lives. We anticipate that there will be a high demand for pediatric nurses as well.
The federal government also states that there are more than three million nursing jobs in the US right now, but the industry will add over 700,000 more by the end of this decade. The Department of Labor states that the median wage for nurses in 2010 was $64,600. The top 10% earn more than $95,000. For pediatric nurses with higher levels of training and experience, we expect that you could earn closer to the upper end salary range.
Indeed.com reports that the average salary in this field is $65,000:
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Requirements to Become a Pediatric Nurse
To be a pediatric nurse, you first need to be a registered nurse, or RN. This means you need to earn at least an associate’s degree or diploma of nursing, but most will earn their Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. After you have your degree and you have passed the NCLEX-RN examination, you can practice as a nurse.
You should find nursing work with a pediatrician, or in the pediatric department of your hospital. You should try to obtain training in the health and development needs of children. After you have gained experience in nursing and in pediatrics, then you can get training to earn a certificate in pediatric nursing.
You may eventually decide to earn your Master of Science degree in Nursing, or MSN so that you can become a pediatric nurse practitioner or a clinical nurse specialist.
Pediatric Nurse Quick Links
Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?
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RN-to-MSN online programs provide an accelerated route for registered nurses to earn their master of science in nursing degree. Our rankings highlight the top programs.
Nurses pursuing their doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degrees attain the highest level of education in the profession. DNP degree-holders become nurse practitioners (NPs), healthcare administrators, nurse educators, and researchers.
Want to become a nurse practitioner but don't have a bachelor's degree? No problem. Check out these top RN-to-MSN bridge programs.