How Do I Become a Pediatric Nurse?

If you like working with children, have an interest in healthcare and think critically, you might wonder how to become a pediatric nurse. A pediatric nurse is a specialized type of registered nurse (RN) that provides care to pediatric patients, or children and adolescents. Pediatric nurses often find work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics and home health services. They are employed in many specialties of healthcare, such as primary care, surgery and emergency room care.

Pediatric nurses perform many of the same duties that other types of registered nurses do. They talk to patients, or their parents, to record medical histories and current symptoms. Registered nurses assist doctors and technicians in administering diagnostic tests and review test results. With physicians, they determine treatment plans and deliver treatments. Nurses also educate patients and their families on the correct way to handle their treatments and recoveries. What sets pediatric nurses apart from other specialties of nursing is their focus on patients under the age of 21.

Becoming an RN requires at least some formal college-level education. Increasingly, aspiring nurses are completing four-year bachelor’s of science degree nursing (BSN) programs in order to have a competitive edge in the job market and improve their chances for advancement. However, aspiring pediatric nurses can also prepare for entry-level nursing positions in two or three years of study by completing an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma program. Students who choose to take this path into nursing may accept entry-level positions and then take advantage of tuition reimbursement programs to complete the requirements for earning their BSN. During their education, aspiring pediatric nurses will perform coursework in anatomy and physiology, psychology, nutrition, chemistry and, of course, nursing. They will gain clinical experience outside the classroom in hospital, health departments, home health agencies, clinics and long-term care facilities.

After graduating, aspiring RNs must take a test called the National Council Licensure Examination and apply for a license in the state in which they intend to practice. These candidates can then specialize in pediatrics by obtaining a position working with children, such as at a pediatrician’s office or in a pediatric ward at a hospital. They can also apply for special credentials in pediatrics, such as certification as a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN). Pediatric nurses may decide to pursue an advanced education to become a pediatric nurse practitioner, an advanced nurse with more extensive job responsibilities.

Registered nurses as a whole earn a median salary of $64,690 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They also enjoy a very positive job outlook, with the BLS anticipating opportunities for nurses to increase by 26 percent during the 2010 and 2020 decade, as compared to only 14 percent job growth expected for all occupations. If you enjoy working with children and are compassionate, well-organized and calm under pressure, knowing how to become a pediatric nurse could be the start of a rewarding new career in healthcare.

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