For most of us our earliest memories of nursing is the pediatric nurse who worked at the office of our primary care physicians. The pediatric nurse is a nurse who specializes in the care of children and their unique needs. It takes a special kind of person to be a pediatric nurse inasmuch as children are not always able to accurately explain how they're feeling. Often times the experience a child has with the pediatric nurse will set the stage for how that child's view of the medical profession develops.
To be a pediatric nurse you must complete your college education, pass the nursing exam, and get your license. You also have to continue your education on an ongoing basis and renew your license as often as your state requires. If you like, you can develop your career beyond pediatrics and eventually get into other areas and work environments.
Qualifications of the Pediatric Nurse
In almost every state the pediatric nurse is a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree focusing on pediatrics. In case you have not figured out by now, pediatrics is the specialized care of children up to about the early teen years. This is considered a specialty in nursing because of the speed at which the child's body changes and develops. A growing child has unique needs that require specialized services from both nurses and doctors.
In order to enter nursing school you'll need to have a high school diploma or a GED. If your education is lacking you may find that you'll be required to take some liberal arts courses in the first year or two of your educational program. Then, depending on the school you choose, you may also have the opportunity to become an LPN before you finish your bachelor degree program to be licensed as an RN. This could help you by allowing you to do some part-time work and gain some practical experience while you're finishing up your schooling.
When you graduate you'll be taking a state licensing exam before you can begin practicing. State licenses are only recognized in the state in which they are issued so be prepared to earn a new license if you move to a new state. The good news is that you probably won't have to repeat any portion of your education to earn the new state license. Simply taking the state exam should be sufficient.
Duties of the Pediatric Nurse
The duties of the pediatric nurse can vary depending on her particular work environment. But as a general rule there are some things common to all including:
- providing first aid treatment and pre-physician care to children
- administering vaccinations
- taking measurements of height, weight, heart rate, etc.
- conducting initial interviews with children and their parents
- educating parents in caring for their children
- cleaning the wounds and changing dressings
The pediatric nurse in the hospital setting will undoubtedly have more varied duties than one working in a private practice office. As such the hospital nurse will most likely take continuing education courses that better prepare her for what she faces on a daily basis. The pediatric nurse also has an extensive amount of family interaction including siblings, parents, and their family physicians. Good communication and interpersonal skills are a must for this type of work.
One of the most important qualities of a good pediatric nurse is her bedside manner when it comes to dealing with young patients. It's not uncommon for children to be afraid of the doctor's office, primarily because of the unknown. But a nurse with a good disposition can set a child's mind at ease and thus, facilitate a much easier experience. Nurses who don't do well with children don't make the best candidates for the pediatrics department.
Job Outlook and Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics pediatric nurses continue to be in high demand throughout the country. At the end of 2010 there were some 2.7 million nurses employed in the United States, though the BLS doesn't say how many of them were pediatric nurses. Job growth in the pediatric specialty is expected to expand by as much as 20% into the year 2020.
In terms of salary and compensation the starting pay for a pediatric nurse is typically in the $48,000-$50,000 a year range. That said, total compensation depends on several factors including education level, experience, facility, and geographic location. The BLS claims the median salary for pediatric nurses is roughly $64,000 annually with health and life insurance included.
If you're the type of person who loves working with children in a medical environment you may be the ideal candidate to become a pediatric nurse. It is a career that is more than rewarding both financially and personally.