A Guide to Becoming a Pediatric Nurse

What Does a Pediatric Nurse Do?

Pediatric nurses provide medical and health care to infants, children and adolescents. These nursing professionals work in a variety of settings like hospitals, clinics, community health centers and private doctors offices. The most common setting for a pediatric nurse is in evidence-based and family-centered environments. Pediatric nurses offer their patients preventative and primary care, as well as treatment for illnesses or injuries.

How Do I Become a Pediatric Nurse?

A pediatric nurse is a registered nurse who specializes in care for children of all ages. Like all registered nurses, they must complete a formal post-secondary program in nursing and pass the NCLEX exam. Practical classes, internships and other “hands-on” experience are required for most nursing certification.

According to the Society of Pediatric Nurses, after a nurse has acquired certification as a registered nurse, the best way to further specializing in pediatric care is to seek employment in settings where pediatrics is emphasized. These sites can offer both classroom and practical experience for pediatric nurses. Pediatric nurses must have an in-depth knowledge of human growth and development, as well as the ability to cater their care to the level of development of their patients.

Many states require pediatric nurses to have certification from the Pediatric Nurses Certification Board, which is the largest nonprofit organization for pediatric nurses. This certification conveys to potential employers and patients that a pediatric nurse has an expertise in pediatric care. The different areas of “mastery” for pediatric nursing include:

  • Physical and Psychosocial/Family Assessment
  • Health Promotion
  • Management of Illness/Clinical Problems
  • Professional Abilities.

After acquiring the certification in pediatric nursing and working in the field for a few years, many pediatric nurses choose to advance their careers by pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing degree. An MSN degree and years of professional pediatric nursing experience qualified a registered nurse to become a pediatric advanced practice nurse. The main difference between registered nurses and advanced practice nurses is that advanced practice nurses can provide primary care to patients, while registered nurses assist other medical care providers.

What is the Average Salary of a Pediatric Nurse?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a registered nurse is $67,490. Those who work for government agencies or hospitals made $72,100 and $69,510 respectively. Nurse practitioners make $98,190. Those who work in hospitals and physicians offices make $111,080 and $104,150.

What is the Career Outlook for Pediatric Nurses?

The occupational outlook for nursing in general is very positive. The healthcare industry is growing and, with that growth, comes a demand for nursing professionals at all levels and all specializations. The amount of growth that the BLS projects for nurse practitioners is 35 percent over the next decade. Registered nursing will have 16 percent growth. Both of these are a considerable amount more than the average occupation.

Education Requirements

The basic education requirement for a pediatric nurse is a registered nurse diploma. However, more and more employers are requiring at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Registered nurses can earn this degree through an RN to BSN program. Some nurses go on to earn a Master of Science in Nursing for career advancement.