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What Is a Pediatric Registered Nurse?

Pediatric registered nurses provide nursing care to infants, children and adolescents in emergency, acute care and primary care facilities. Read on to learn about their job duties, educational and licensure requirements, career outlook and salary potential.

Job Description

Registered nurses (RNs) can specialize in working with a particular age group or health condition. For example, you could work with children who suffer from cancer or other debilitating diseases, care for babies in a maternity ward or offer general care as a primary health care provider. As a pediatric RN, you could work in a physician's office, hospital or clinic. Your job duties might include:

  • Taking vital signs
  • Administering medication
  • Observing young patients
  • Explaining health problems to patients as well as their families
  • Using medical equipment
  • Performing tests to diagnose illnesses
  • Creating patient care plans
  • Discussing at-home care with patients and their families

Important Facts About Pediatric Registered Nurses

Work Environment Hospitals, physicians' offices, home healthcare services
Key Skills Compassion, emotional stability, detail oriented
Similar Occupations Dental hygienists, nurse anesthetists, physician assistants
On-The-Job Training Degree and license required; related work experience required for advancement

Required Education

To become an RN, you'll need to complete an accredited nursing program, such as an associate's degree. You'll need a bachelor's degree if you plan to pursue an advanced degree in pediatric nursing, which offers you greater opportunities for specialization. In a nursing program, your coursework will usually include anatomy, chemistry, psychology, microbiology and nutrition. You could also take courses in nursing practice.

Some of your courses in an undergraduate program might cover topics in pediatrics and family health care, including care for newborns and mothers, school-aged children and adolescents. You might also be able to complete independent research and select elective courses in pediatric nursing. In Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and master's degree programs, you could take advanced courses in nursing for children, emergency care, community health issues and leadership.

Licensure

Before practicing as an RN, you must obtain a state-issued license. All states require that you pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) before you can obtain a license. You'll need to check with your state's board of nursing for any other qualifications you'll need to satisfy in order to practice.

Certification Options

You can pursue a certification in pediatric nursing, such as the Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC) credential offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Qualifying to take the exam requires that you are an active RN with two years of full-time RN work experience. During the three years prior to taking the exam, you must have gained 2,000 pediatric nursing clinical practice hours and completed 30 pediatric nursing continuing education hours.

The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) also offers a number of different certifications for experienced nursing professionals. Before qualifying to take the Certified Pediatric Nurse exam, you must first have 1,800 hours of documented nursing experience in a pediatric clinical setting. There are many advantages to certification, including proven credentials of your qualifications, the possibility of increasing your salary or career standing, and in some cases, credit toward a bachelor's degree (www.pncb.org).

Advanced Education

If you want to increase your expertise in the field of pediatric nursing, you can enroll in a pediatric nurse practitioner graduate degree program. Conferring a master's degree, these programs combine classroom and clinical experiences. Foundation courses include pharmacology, health assessment, advanced nursing methodology and ethics. You'll perform supervised clinical pediatric work in hospitals, health clinics, specialist practices and private pediatric practices. With a master's degree in pediatric nursing, you could qualify for fellowships or internships in sub-specialties, such as oncology, maternity or acute care nursing.

Job Outlook and Salary

RN employment growth is expected to be strong from 2016-2026, with faster-than-average growth of 15% expected, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). You can improve your prospects by earning a bachelor's degree and gaining work experience. With the fast employment growth and many RNs retiring in the coming years, there will be good job opportunities in this field.

The median wage for a pediatric registered nurse was $60,187 in June 2019, according to PayScale.com. Most of these nurses made between $33,000 and $83,000 per year. The BLS reported in May 2018 that the median salary among all RNs was $71,730.