Pediatric Nurse Job Description & Salary Information
A pediatric nurse is well-versed in the normal growth and development of children. In practice, pediatric nursing care will be individualized with regard to a child’s physical, emotional and intellectual developmental level.
A pediatric nurse also will need to work with and within the family dynamic, treating family members as care partners. Pediatric nursing requires the understanding that disease presentations for pediatric patients can vary greatly from those in the adult population, prompting treatment approaches that should be tailored to the educational and emotional needs of the child, as well as the aforementioned family dynamic.
What Does a Pediatric Nurse Do?
According to Nurse.org, pediatric nurses usually are registered nurses (RN) or advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), who decide to pursue specialty training in pediatrics, working specifically with babies, toddlers and adolescents. Pediatric RNs may work in a hospital’s pediatric department or at a pediatric clinic.
There are also pediatric nurse practitioners (PNP) who take on additional responsibilities such as prescribing medications, performing developmental screenings and administering immunizations. They hold advanced degrees in nursing and pass additional exams in order to practice.
Pediatric nurses provide care to children from the time they are infants, through childhood until they are adolescents. Because there are so many conditions and issues that are specific to growing and developing bodies, it requires specialized knowledge to provide pediatric patient care.
In addition to the above, being a pediatric nurse also requires the delicate handling of sensitivities and limitations as appropriate to the age of the patient. Pediatric nursing also entails sensitive social skills as a strong communicator with parents and caretakers, including a comforting and educating bedside manner.
Job Growth & Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not specifically track pediatric nursing, but RN jobs are predicted to increase 16% by 2024. Children’s hospitals guarantee a continued need for pediatric nursing, as well as other entities such as clinics, government agencies, schools and social service agencies.
The BLS lists the median annual wage for registered nurses at $68,450. However, Nurse.org states that “typically, specialty nurses who develop an expertise in one area, like pediatric nursing, usually earn more than other nurses.” Another big factor in pay scale is the state in which a pediatric nurse works, as well as local economic conditions.
Because salary potential and employment opportunities may vary depending on factors such as a candidate’s education and experience, as well as regional market conditions, prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research.
How to Become a Pediatric Nurse
Nurse.org provides a helpful list of steps required to become a pediatric nurse:
Step One: Become a Registered Nurse (RN)
The first step for becoming any type of nurse is to become a Registered Nurse. From there, you can go into different specialty areas like pediatric nursing. To become a licensed RN, you must complete an approved program of study (either a bachelor’s or associate degree program), and pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination).
Step Two: Try it out
Once you become a practicing RN, you can seek out positions that will give you experience in pediatrics. This can help you decide whether to pursue the specialty and earn additional certifications.
Step Three: Decide whether to pursue an advanced degree
As mentioned, to become an RN, you must complete a degree program in nursing. You may also choose to pursue an advanced degree or even go on to become a nurse practitioner who specializes in pediatrics.
Step Four: Get certified
To really showcase a special knowledge of pediatrics, RNs can take additional certification exams. For pediatric nurses, taking the Certified Pediatric Nurse Examination, which is administered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB), will signify that you have true expertise in the field.