Pediatric nurse job duties are different from what a mainstream nursing professional faces. Pediatric nurses deal with some of the most fragile patients around. For this reason, it takes distinctive skills to travel this career path.
The mission is to tend to children at all health stages. From wellness care to critical illnesses, pediatric nurses dedicate themselves to the youngest members of the community.
Pediatric nursing is a specialized field, but educational requirements vary by location and job assignment. Any nurse, LPN or RN, can work in a pediatrician’s practice. Medical facilities may also accept licensed practical nurses to work with children.
However, to get certification as a pediatric nurse, a candidate must complete a two-year nursing program with an accredited school. The nurse must be in good standing with the community, as well, according to the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.
In addition to meeting the educational standards, the board requires nurses to complete 1800 hours of clinical duty in a pediatric environment within the previous 24 months. Once the board receives proof of clinical experience and education, they review the candidate’s qualifications and issue the proper certification.
The role of a pediatric nurse goes beyond patient care. The nurse must offer assistance to children and parents alike. The physical job of the nurse varies by position. They may work in hospitals, community clinics or pediatrician’s offices.
Nurses do initial assessments and take full histories from the caregiver. They assist in exams, gather samples such as urine, blood and stool, take vital signs, manage charts and dispense medication.
One of the biggest roles a pediatric nurse plays is one of support. Children are inherently frightened of doctors and medical care. Pediatric nurses provide comfort to scared kids, many of whom are sick and cranky. That care extends beyond the children.
A nurse working in pediatrics will also be the primary source of education for caregivers. Parents are understandably anxious when they bring their children in for treatment. The pediatric nurse is a source of information and consolation for parents who are upset or nervous.
The doctor may briefly instruct parents on drug therapies or treatment protocols, but the nurse is often the one who spends time explaining the information in detail. They are available to answer questions, for parents who are concerned about their children.
Pediatric nurses looking to expand their education can get additional training for more opportunities. To work in the neonatal center of a hospital, for example, nurses must obtain a Bachelor of Nursing Science degree. This advance pediatric role requires certification in Neonatal Intensive Care and Resuscitation, as well.
Nurses looking to push the educational boundaries, in this field, can go on to get a master’s or doctorate, and become a pediatric nurse practitioner or a pediatric nurse anesthetist.
Job Outlook for Pediatric Nurses
The overall job outlook in nursing is promising, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau predicts job opportunities for nurses will increase as much as 26 percent by the year 2020.
Compensation varies by region, job specification and educational background. BLS states the median salary for a registered nurse is $64,690 per year. Pediatric nursing is a specialty. Nurses, who go the extra mile to obtain certification from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, can expect to make more money.
An experienced nurse, in the field of pediatrics, could make as much as $100,000 a year. The more education the nurse receives, the better the opportunities and salary can be.
Pediatric nursing requires a love of children and a dedication to their well-being. These professionals devote their time and skills to caring for young patients in challenging situations. Many are unable to explain why they hurt or to offer information about their status.
A nurse who selects this career must be intuitive and willing to focus attention on the family unit, as well as the patient. From health education to wellness care and prevention, the pediatric nurse offers a specialized service to the community.