Pediatrics is a field of health care involving care for infants, children, and adolescents. In the field of nursing, pediatric nursing is considered one of the most in-demand specializations. Pediatric nurses perform basic duties such as immunization and render nursing care to provide therapeutic support to patients and families. Pediatric nurses may be a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN). Further, once adequate experience is attained, a pediatric nurse may seek certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or Pediatric Nursing Certification. Once certified, they may choose to gain a master’s degree and become an advanced practice pediatric nurse.
Pediatric nurses are registered nurses caring for children of all ages within diverse healthcare settings. To specialize in pediatrics, nurses usually seek employment in an institution serving pediatric patients. Most sites offer clinical and/or classroom experience focused on the unique needs of children. Such “internship” programs vary in duration, could either be in weeks or months. When it comes to salary, it will depend on the level of experience and education of the nurse, the location of the medical institution etc.
Pediatric nurses are highly knowledgeable about the subject of growth and development of children, as they need to adapt and base their care and interaction on the developmental level of the child. On top of that, pediatric nurses must recognize the family’s expertise and work with them in providing care for the patient.Diagnosis, treatment, and equipment used for pediatric patients are different from those of adult patients.
To become a pediatric nurse, one has to be a licensed nurse or a registered nurse first. One can earn an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree in nursing from an accredited college. Prospective nurses may consider volunteering, work in a kid-centered environment, or take courses in early childhood development. After completion of the nursing degree course the next step is to pass the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN, the national licensing examination to work as a licensed or registered nurse.
Once certified, you need to find a job as an LVN or RN in a pediatrician’s office, a family doctor, or in a pediatric department of a medical institution. Make the most of in-service training to learn more and understand the unique needs of children. If you prefer working in a specialized pediatric area such as, pediatric oncology, neonatal care, or pediatric intensive care, you may need more training in these specific areas. Once you have mastered nursing skills, you may choose to pursue specific training to obtain a certificate in pediatric nursing. Also, aspiring RNs may choose to obtain a master’s degree in nursing and become a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Pediatrics or Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.
Certification identifies a person as possessing some level of expertise;passing a reliable and valid examination shows this. It attests a person critical thinking skills and knowledge pertaining to decision-making. Certification also recognizes a nurse as possessing a degree of proficiency in a certain area of nursing practice. There are two organizations – the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, supporting certification programs. Each has their particular exam and requirements for certification.
Job Description & Duties
A general pediatric unit gives care to children having broad range of chronic and acute illnesses. Kids requiring intensive and invasive monitoring are cared for within the pediatric intensive care unit where staff nurses are highly proficient in the care of severely ill children. Patients under intermediate care are acutely ill and need regular assessment and monitoring than the care given on a general pediatric unit. Many practitioners think of intermediate care as the area where patients transition between intensive care to general pediatric unit. Pediatric nurses in intermediate care are particularly trained to identify early signs and symptoms and the necessary intervention.
Those employed in pediatric rehabilitation units render combined nursing and rehabilitation care to achieve patient independence, preparing the child for return to home, school, and community. Whatever the work setting a pediatric nurse may be assigned, the pediatric nurse possesses the following main responsibilities and functions.
- Formulate initial diagnosis of the patient by assessing and analyzing symptoms and signs
- Administer necessary immunizations,check child’s vital signs, chart the observation, and start intravenous fluids
- Keep accurate records and inform the same to the doctor
- Carry out basic nursing duties such as, collecting lab samples, dressing wounds, feeding, etc.
- Educate the patient’s family regarding the illness and the treatment course.
- Give emotional comfort and support.
- Collaborate with medical teams, doctors, and even social workers to arrive at most effective plan of treatment
Job Outlook and Salary
Pediatric nurses often earn an annual salary range between $48,000 and $68,000, though salary may vary depending on the educational level, the geographic location, the experience and the type of work facility you are employed. In fact, experienced pediatric nurses earn as much as $100,000 a year.
References and Further Reading
- Society of Pediatric Nurses (www.pednurses.org)
- Pediatric Nursing Board Certification Board (www.pncb.org)
- American Nurses Credentialing Center (www.nursecredentialing.org)
- American Association of Critical Care Nursing Certification Corporation (www.cetcorp.org)