Pediatric Nurse

Pediatric nursing is a specialization within nursing that involves caring for young patients. Keep reading to see if a career in pediatric nursing is right for you and what type of educational training you'll need.

Is Pediatric Nursing For Me?

Career Details

As a registered nurse, you may specialize in pediatrics or become an advanced practice nurse who focuses on pediatrics, also known as a pediatric nurse practitioner. Pediatric nurses and pediatric nurse practitioners care specifically for young patients. If you're a pediatric nurse practitioner, you'll serve as a primary or specialty care provider, and you may have permission to write prescriptions. Pediatric nurses provide care to children from birth through adolescence and know about their growth and development, and they help educate the family about patient health. Work settings for pediatric nurses and pediatric nurse practitioners may include pediatric clinics, children's hospitals, family practices, nursing administration offices and academic institutions.

Employment Information

If you're interested in a career as a pediatric nurse, you can expect excellent job prospects during the 2012-2022 period. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses held more than 2.7 million jobs in 2012, more than any other occupation in healthcare (www.bls.gov). The BLS projected employment to grow by 19% from 2012-2022, which was faster than the average for all occupations. You could see the best nursing opportunities at outpatient and residential care facilities, as well as in home healthcare. The BLS also reported that in May 2012, the median annual salary for registered nurses was $65,470.

How Can I Work in Pediatric Nursing?

Undergraduate Education and Licensing

Training to become a pediatric nurse often starts with an associate's degree in nursing or a bachelor's degree in nursing. Pediatric nursing isn't offered at the undergraduate level, according to the Society of Pediatric Nurses (www.pedsnurses.org). Instead, you may obtain clinical experience at a pediatric facility. These degree programs will prepare you to pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse), which is required to obtain mandatory licensure.

Graduate Education

Additional training in the form of a Master of Science in Nursing program or other advanced nursing degree program is required for pediatric nurse practitioners. You may need to meet additional state requirements to practice. Several independent organizations, including the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, administer standards and credentials for pediatric nurses and pediatric nurse practitioners.

As a graduate student in a pediatric nursing degree program, you could take courses such as advanced pathology and physiology, pediatric health assessment, clinical prevention, child development, adolescent development and reproductive health. You can also learn about caring for children with special healthcare needs. Programs at this level include hands-on training in a variety of healthcare settings. You'll work alongside doctors to diagnose common childhood illnesses, conduct screenings and other health tests, administer medication and follow up with family members.

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