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How to Become a Pediatric Nurse

pediatric nurse

How to Become a Pediatric Nurse

One could safely say that Pediatric Nurses are a cut above the others in the profession in terms of attributes (patience, compassion) and the desire to help. This difference is based on the fact that their main patients are children and babies who are more vulnerable and disadvantaged than adults.

On the whole, a Pediatric Nurse works in a medical institution (hospitals, clinics, medical centers) specializing in child health and development. The main line of duty centers in acute care, specialty care and primary care on pediatric (children) cases.

Primary care is mostly child health maintenance – vaccinations, physicals, screenings, and other routine practices. Specialty care involves childhood-specific diseases and their treatment. Acute care is dealing with chronic or terminal illnesses.

To qualify as a Pediatric Nurse, you must first be a Registered Nurse (RN) with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. After graduation, you need to pass an examination for the license to practice as an RN – the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses or NCLEX-RN issued by the State’s Board of Nursing. (Most states also require continuing education to keep your license valid.)

While in nursing school, you will have your initial experience in pediatrics. Later, you need to enter formal training programs in pediatric nursing sponsored by the pediatric departments of large medical institutions or by hospitals specializing in pediatrics.

Actual work experience and internships are also valid when trying out as a pediatric nurse. You need to apply for positions in medical facilities with specialization in the treatment and care of babies, children and adolescents.

The next step would be to qualify as a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN). Candidates need to pass either one of the examinations from the two nursing bodies that issue CPN credentials – the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board and the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Your training program at your hospital most likely determines which exams you need to take.

Becoming a Pediatric Nurse also needs a strong emotional and physical constitution. It is more complicated than regular nursing jobs. However, the level of satisfaction of seeing your child patients recovering and getting well cannot be measured in words.

Pediatric nurses specialize in working with children and their families.  There is a huge demand for pediatric nurses.  To become a pediatric nurse, you will need to undergo additional specialized training after graduating from nursing school.  Pediatric nurses can work in clinics, hospitals,  and some family practices.

The role of a pediatric nurse is to provide specialized care for children from infant stage till teenage.  A pediatric nurse deals with a vast range of children’s health issues, helping manage patient care, and helping find and assign resources for future care.   Some pediatric nurses grow to specialize in neonatal or infant care to the extent where they are able to identify likely infant diseases, respiratory infections, and problems with normal development.  They also assist in directing the patients having particular diseases to care centers.  Pediatric nurses can also specialize in individualized care of sick children offering home-treatment or in hospitals for children.

Duties of a pediatric nurse entail starting IVs, performing catheterizations for collecting urine and stool samples, checking and obtaining vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, heart and respiratory rates), performing eye exams, full body assessments, administering medications (intramuscular, intravenous, oral and rectal), educating patient and their families, CPR administration, helping apply splints for fractures, and other allied functions.

Requirements for becoming a Pediatric Nurse

  • Education-Basic education required is a Bachelor’s degree in Science (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN).  There is some pediatric content included in every nursing program.
  • Preparation and advanced education-The pre-requisite for undertaking pediatric training is to first become a nurse. There are two certain ways of becoming an accomplished Pediatric Nurse.  One is by applying and getting trained on-the-job to receive specialized training and the other is by taking continued education classes to keep oneself updated.
  • Certification-To become a Certified Pediatric Nurse, some experience in a children’s hospital setting is required along with taking a national exam.  Study materials are available with the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.
  • Considerations-Keeping up with the latest technology and procedures required for optimum care of children by taking specialized courses with continued education will enhance the pediatric nurse’s speciality.
  • Reward-A pediatric nurse’s ultimate reward is being successful in reassuring parents of her patient and ensuring her patient’s complete recovery.

What Is A Pediatric Nurse Salary?

There are various factors that determine a pediatric nurse salary. The amount of experience and the level at which an individual has been educated will play a role. In most health centres a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner that has studied up to Master’s level will receive the highest salary. Next in line are those nurses with a Bachelor’s degree and the lowest pay is received by nurses with associate’s degrees.

Nursing is a great industry to work in, it is a job that can bring immense satisfaction; today there are very few positions that provide such a selfless service. There will always be a demand for trained medical specialists no matter what the state of the economy. Also there is scope for moving up the career ladder to a higher position.

At every level there is a great demand for qualified nurses. In most western countries there is a shortage of nurses and medical specialists; this is why you often find overseas workers filling the role.

Even a low pediatric nurse salary is still competitive. Most nurses will also get a decent benefits package that includes insurance for health, vision, and dental treatment, as well as a life insurance plan.

It can happen that there are geographic variations in the salary that pediatric nurses receive. It is worth researching the latest openings to find out whether relocating will bring a greater economic reward. Even within a state or region there can be a range of salaries offered for positions that are basically the same.

As in most occupations you will receive a better salary the more qualified you are. If you hold a Master’s degree in nursing and have also successfully taken the ARNP exams then you can expect a starting salary in the range of $70,000. After five years experience this will be around $80,000.

There is a massive difference between what a new pediatric nurse with a master’s qualification will earn as opposed to those only holding a Bachelors degree. On average a nurse that has acquired a BSN will be offered a salary of $50,000, though after a few years this can pass the $90,000 mark.

If you only have an Associate’s Degree then the pediatric nurse salary that you will receive is likely to be lower than of a nurse with a BSN. Certain health centres may give 5 to 10 per cent less then what other nurses receive, though there are some hospitals that will give the same salary.