People looking to work in the medical field with children of all ages should consider a career as a pediatric nurse. Registered nurses (RNs) looking to specialize their careers can pursue this focus. Our guide provides information on the pediatric nurse occupation, including what these nurses do, where they work, and education and certification requirements, along with data on career and salary prospects.
What is a Pediatric Nurse?
Pediatric nurses specialize in providing healthcare to children from birth until they become young adults. These nurses focus on preventative care, examine growth and development, provide primary care, and manage chronic and acute illnesses. Pediatric nurses provide children with health education and holistic care to ensure that their patients receive the highest quality of healthcare available. These nurses dedicate their careers to improving patient outcomes and evaluating every facet of care for them.
- What Do Pediatric Nurses Do?
Pediatric nurses guide children through processes like immunizations, screenings, and specific treatments or conditions, such as chickenpox. Many medical workers find it most difficult to cope with the illness or loss of a young patient, so it can make for an emotionally draining career for some.
Pediatric nurses tend to many different job responsibilities. Some of their core duties include developmental screenings and assessments, performing well-child examinations, administering immunizations, caring for and treating common childhood illnesses, and conducting school or sports physical exams. Some of the most common illnesses these nurses treat include rashes, flu, colds, asthma, and physical injuries.
Pediatric nurses also care for patients experiencing chronic conditions, including childhood cancer, type I diabetes, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and spina bifida. These nurses provide lactation and newborn education, teen birth control counseling, and they act as liaisons between physicians and families.
- Where Do Pediatric Nurses Work?
Many types of medical facilities host job opportunities for pediatric nurses. Some of the most common healthcare settings for these nurses include pediatric medical offices, pediatric intensive care units, neonatal intensive care units, peri-operative units, and community healthcare clinics.
Pediatric nurses experience high levels of stress during their careers, often carrying heavy patient loads and making difficult diagnoses and decisions for their patients. These nurses commonly work holidays, nights, and weekends, completing shifts with extended hours. Pediatric nurses sometimes work in on-call positions, requiring them to be available at the last minute for patients in need.
- Skills That Could Affect Pediatric Nurse Salaries
Pediatric nurses should possess excellent communication skills. These nurses typically interact with many different people throughout a typical workday, including physicians, specialists, and office staff, along with patients and their families. Pediatric nurses should be able to easily explain and convey patient information to families, answering any questions they might have about the patient's condition.
These professionals must maintain multi-tasking skills and remain attuned to the different facets of care for their patients. Pediatric nurses should be able to monitor patients on all levels while simultaneously focusing on looking ahead in the patient's care plan for any potential issues on the horizon.
How to Become a Pediatric Nurse
Individuals interested in becoming pediatric nurses must complete an accredited nursing program, earning an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) to pursue licensure as an RN. Pediatric nurses work as advanced practice registered nurses, so they must earn a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP). Depending on the path they choose, they can take between 2-4 years to earn their advanced degrees.
Many professionals in the field who are interested in learning how to become pediatric nurses should consider enrolling in online MSN or DNP programs that allow them to continue working while completing educational requirements. After earning the appropriate degree, nurses can seek the necessary certification that aligns with their specific career goals.
Pediatric Nurse Salaries and Job Growth
Experience level and location can affect the pediatric nurse salary figures across the United States. The national median salary for the occupation is $60,441.
According to PayScale, pediatric nurses in entry-level roles receive an average annual salary of $50,585, while those in their late-career phase enjoy an average pay of $58,344. Since pediatric nursing is a specialty field, many pediatric nurses begin their careers working as RNs. The pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing field offers the highest salaries for these professionals, and California provides the highest salary rates and employment levels for RNs.
Median Salary for Pediatric Nurses by Career Experience
- Entry Level: $50,585
- Early Career: $53,872
- Mid Career: $60,632
- Experienced: $65,936
- Late Career: $58,344
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Pediatric Nurse Resources
- Society of Pediatric Nurses The Society of Pediatric Nurses aims to advance the pediatric nursing specialty through promoting research, practice, and education. The organization advocates for career advancement in the field, functioning as the premier pediatric society with nearly 4,000 pediatric nurses across almost 30 specializations. SPN provides educational resources, networking opportunities, and information about industry trends to members.
- National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners As a nonprofit specialty nursing organization, NAPNAP remains committed to improving the quality of child and infant healthcare. The organization aims to provide a professional home for advanced practice specialty nurses and pediatric nurses.
- Pediatric Nursing Certification Board Committed to promoting optimal outcomes for global pediatric health, the PNCB provides certification services to validate specialized knowledge and continuing education components in pediatric nursing. The board focuses on respect, advocacy, innovation, quality, and integrity to ensure that every child receives quality healthcare from a PNCB-certified nursing professional.
- Nurse.com Job Search Nurses use this function to search for jobs based on title, specialty, and location. The extensive search engine allows for specificity in every available search query.
- Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Functioning as a national organization of nursing educators, the AFPNP began in 1972. The organization aims to foster interdisciplinary education for pediatric nurses.