Pediatric nurses are registered nurses that specialize in the care of adolescents, children, and infants. Prospective pediatric nurses usually hold a bachelor or master degree in nursing. Many pediatric nurses are employed by clinics, community centers and hospitals. Nursing has an overall strong job market.
Pediatric Nurse Education Requirements
Students aspiring to work as pediatric nurses are required to first become registered nurses (RN). Education to become a RN can be accomplished either through school or hospital. While coursework could vary slightly, these programs will give graduates the eligibility to sit for the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) that is a mandatory requirement for aspiring registered nurses (www.ncsbn.org).
Nursing diploma programs are offered at hospitals and last for two to three years. Coursework includes child psychology, physiology and anatomy. Additionally, nursing skills are imparted to them by having students work with professionals from the healthcare field. After they complete the program, students can embark on management of patient care.
Pediatric Nurse – Associate and Bachelor Degree Programs
Prospective pediatric nurses may also pursue a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program or a 2-year Associate Degree program in Nursing (ADN). These degree programs are similar to nursing diploma program because it offers a combination of classroom instruction and clinical experience. Coursework could cover patient management, health assessments and nursing ethics. Students who want to pursue pediatric nursing careers are allowed to seek admission to electives related to pediatrics; alternatively, they could concentrate on pediatric care during their clinical training.
Licensure and registration are mandatory for all working nurses. Passing the NCLEX-RN examination will secure registration of prospective pediatric nurses. Candidates can use the examination to grasp an understanding of basic principles and skills required in the provision of quality health care in workplace settings. There are additional licensure requirements in some states and aspiring candidates should consult their respective state boards.
Master of Science in Nursing
Registered nurses may have the ability to concentrate on pediatric care during their work, but completing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program allows candidates to focus on specialized areas. Individuals who want to become advanced practice nurses and focus on the care of infants and children can become pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs). Candidates aspiring to enroll in a MSN program are required to hold a BSN degree. Alternatively, those who hold associate degrees or diplomas could enroll in ‘bridge’ programs such as ADN-MSN, RN-MSN, LVN-RN or LPN-BSN. It takes two to three years to complete a MSN program focusing on pediatric care. Coursework includes advanced nursing practice concepts and covers subject areas such as acute childcare, clinical pharmacology, and diagnostic reasoning.
Working closely with pediatricians, pediatric nurses engage in the administration of medication and provision of routine medical care to infants and children. Their duties typically involve taking blood samples and patients’ blood pressure and insertion of catheters. Families can also rely on pediatric nurses to help cope with the psychological impact concomitant with the diagnosis of their child’s illness or disease. Base on the research conducted by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), there is a twenty-two percent growth in employment for nurses during the period from 2008 to 2018. The increase is much faster than the average career. In August 2011, pediatric nurse practitioner earned an annual salary between $59,345 and $101,474 according to Payscale.com.