Becoming a nurse is truly taking on a career in caring, perhaps even more so for those who decide to specialize in pediatrics. These admirable 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, being a pediatric nurse also means that you'll have to know how to handle the sensitivities and limitations of the age of the patient you're caring for. You'll also have to be a great communicator with a comforting bedside manner who can inform and educate worried parents. Helping children to grow up big and strong is really at the heart of what pediatric nurses do every day, making it an important career for a healthy population.
Part OneWhat Is A Pediatric Nurse?
Pediatric nurses are usually Registered Nurses (RN) or Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), who decide to pursue specialty training in pediatrics. Doing so allows them to take on roles in which they can work specifically with babies, toddlers, tweens, and teens. Pediatric RNs may work in a hospital's pediatric department, for example.
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.
Part TwoWhat Is The Salary Range For Pediatric Nurses?
As of May 2015, the median annual salary for RNs is $67,490, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reports that Nurse Practitioners earn a median annual income of $98,190.
Typically, specialty nurses who develop an expertise in one area, like pediatric nursing, usually earn more than other nurses.
Keep in mind that salaries for any nurse can vary greatly, increasing with experience, and depending on the employer. For example, a school nurse in a small private school will likely earn much less than a pediatric nurse at a prestigious Children's Hospital.
Another big determining factor in a pediatric nurse’s salary is the state in which one works. The five top-paying states for pediatric nurses according to Nurse Journal include:
Part ThreeWhat Is The Career Outlook For A Pediatric Nurse?
Nursing will continue to be an in-demand field, because of the impending nursing shortage and the aging population. Therefore, RN jobs are predicted to have a growth rate of 16% through the year 2024, which is faster than most occupations, according to the BLS. Adding a specialty like pediatric nursing will likely provide even more job security.
In addition, pediatric nurses are highly sought after by some types of employers. For instance, working for a Children's Hospital is a natural fit for pediatric nurses. Considering that Children's Medical Center of Dallas and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago are both in the top 10 in the list of the 30 Most Nurse-Friendly Hospitals in the United States, you can understand why pediatric nursing can be a very rewarding career.
In addition, pediatric nurses are highly sought after by certain types of employers. For instance, working for a children's hospital is a natural fit for pediatric nurses. Children's Medical Center of Dallas and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago are both in the top 10 in the list of the 30 Most Nurse-Friendly Hospitals in the United States, so it’s clear that pediatric nursing can also be a very rewarding career.
Having specialized skills is also an excellent way to be a strong candidate for travel nursing jobs. Travel nurses get to work short-term jobs all over the country, usually for 12-week contracts (or sometimes longer). Being experienced and having credentials in a high demand area like pediatrics can give you an edge.
Part Four How Do You Become A Pediatric Nurse?
Step One: Become an RN
The first step for becoming any type of nurse is to become an RN, or 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.
For more information on becoming an RN, see our RN Career Guide.
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.
See our Nurse Practitioner Guide for more details on this career path.
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.
Part FiveWhat Does A Pediatric Nursing Job Look Like?
One of the real perks of becoming a pediatric nurse is that you can choose from all sorts of employment opportunities, as long as there are babies or children involved. Hospitals and private pediatrician offices are the most obvious choices; however, there is a need for pediatric nurses in clinics, government agencies, social service agencies, community groups, and schools.
Some pediatric nurses choose to focus on positions that provide family health education and offer health fair presentations and screenings.
According to Ipedsnursing.org, here is a breakdown of the most common pediatric nursing jobs:
- 35% work in free-standing children's hospitals
- 31% work in children's hospitals associated with a major medical center
- 14% work in community hospitals
- 4.64% work in a hospital-based outpatient clinic
- 4.59% work in a major medical center
- 3.67% answered "Other"
- 3% work in outpatient primary care
- 1.43% work in a school setting
- 1.1% work in a home health care setting
As for what the daily job is like, it really depends on the type of health care facility. Pediatric nurses in hospitals will work a variety of shifts that provide care 24/7; whereas those working for a community organization might have more traditional hours.
Part SixWhere Can I Learn More About Pediatric Nursing Jobs/Careers?
To learn more about pediatric nursing careers, it's a good idea to explore the resources offered by the various professional associations. Here are a few to start with:
- Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) - provides certification services for nursing professionals who care for pediatric populations.
- National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) - the professional association for all pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) - although it's an organization of 66,000 pediatricians, there is much to be learned about the field via this enormous group.
- Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN) - dedicated to advancing the specialty of pediatric nursing through excellence in education, research and practice
- Institute of Pediatric Nursing (IPN) - a standing committee created by the PNCB to promote a unified voice for pediatric nursing
Being a pediatric nurse is a rewarding career. By helping children thrive, you help the world to do so too.