Career As a Pediatric Nurse

Nurse with child

Are you thinking about pursuing a career as a pediatric nurse? This job is a rewarding position that involves working specifically with children and adolescents. Nurses who specialize in pediatrics can work in a number of different settings and the job has many facets.

What Is a Pediatric Nurse?

A pediatric nurse is a nursing career choice that is ideal for people who love working with kids. Duties vary according to the specific medical setting. A nurse working in a pediatric hospital may have different expectations than a nurse working in a small doctor's office. Basic duties include:

  • Collecting data for medical records
  • Analyzing medical histories
  • Analyzing symptoms
  • Performing tests
  • Evaluating test results
  • Administering treatments and medications
  • Administering immunizations

A career as a pediatric nurse requires more than surface medical job duties. The position requires a nurse to be a counselor, advisor, organizer as well as a caregiver. Working with children involves working with their families, which makes communication skills very important.

  • Clearly communicate the child's medical needs
  • Determine if parents and caretakers are following through with treatments
  • Detect possible health problems that may develop
  • Discover developmental needs

Developmental Needs

A nurse working with children is familiar with development from birth through adolescents. Children meet many milestones as they grow and normal development is a key area of concern. The prevalence of pervasive developmental disorders including autism and Asperger's syndrome has risen significantly, and the CDC estimates that the disorders affect one in every 110 children.

Pediatric nurses recognize normal development and they alert parents and pediatricians when they suspect that an infant or young child is not developing normally. Screening tests and parent questionnaires are among the tools that nurses use to help detect developmental delays. Some nurses work with pediatric specialists in autism.

Work Settings

A pediatric nurse may work in a number of different settings, and each places unique demands on the medical professional. Settings offer a variety of experiences and nurses can find an environment that suits their skills and personalities.

  • Medical offices
  • Clinics
  • Hospital floors
  • Emergency rooms
  • Intensive care
  • Schools
  • Summer camps
  • Government and military programs
  • Educational programs

A pediatric nurse may be required in other settings as well. Nurses serve as advocates, educators and caregivers and they adhere to a strict privacy policy. They may work independently or they may work closely with a pediatrician. Considerable education and training is required to ensure that all aspects of the career's demands are met.

Education and Training

Three educational and training avenues are available for people entering the field of nursing.

  1. A bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN) can be earned at a college or university. The degree typically takes four years to earn.
  2. Associate degree in nursing (ADN) can be earned in a junior college or community college. The associate degree typically takes two to three years to complete.
  3. Diplomas in nursing may be earned in hospital settings. Diploma programs are relatively few in number. They take about three years to complete.

After a degree or diploma is earned, nurses have to become licensed in their state. Licensing requirements vary from one state to the next but each requires candidates to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Candidates register to take the exam and they have to complete the test during a specific time as determined by their state's board of nursing.

Some employers requires nurses to earn continuing education credits to keep up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of medicine.

Job Opportunities

Careers in pediatric nursing are in great demand and job growth is expected to grow, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those interested in pursuing a career as a pediatric nurse should begin by finding resources for education and training necessary to qualify for employment.

After certification and licensing are complete, candidates can explore employment agencies for medical positions to find work. This may not be necessary considering the current demand for nursing professionals.

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Career As a Pediatric Nurse