Technically, a pediatric nurse is a registered nurse who specializes in dealing with young patients and their parents or guardians. While pediatric nurses occasionally do deal with adolescents, their pediatric nurse skills are usually called for with very young children (i.e., toddlers). This is because young children and infants have a high risk acquiring infections or diseases, especially viral ones, and require especially attentive pediatric nurse skills to manage these higher risks.
Advantages of having pediatric nurse skills
If you’d love to become a registered pediatric nurse, you’re in luck: this industry has an above-average projected employment growth (26% in 2010-2020). Pediatric nurses also have a higher than average annual salary ($69,000 in 2011). All these may be due to medical and technological advances that have improved pediatric care in hospitals.
Pediatric nurses also experience more emotional satisfaction and spiritual fulfillment in their work. In practice, they talk directly to children and their parents about health issues, and so have a direct impact on their thinking. Due to the nature of their work and the demands on pediatric nurse skills, they are more involved in patient medical problem-solving processes than other nurses.
Pediatric nursing requirements
As with all registered nurses, pediatric nurses must earn a general degree in nursing and acquire a nursing license by undergoing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) from the U.S. National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). In the U.S., some states have specific NCLEX-RN score requirements that you may have to achieve in order to work as a registered nurse in their area.
But in order to specialize in pediatrics, nurses must learn relevant medical specializations, such as stress pediatrics or gastrointestinal health, in order to augment their pediatric nurse skills.
You may stop at merely augmenting your skills. But the best way to be among the top pediatric nurses out there is to attain special certification as a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN), or pediatric nursing credentials through the Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC) certification.
Such requirements for pediatric registered nurses immediately imply hours of practice and (eventually) continuing pediatric education even after you’ve gotten your license.
This also means that pediatric nurse skills will have to include sustaining emotional sensitivity to children and their parents, despite the unusual work hours, emergencies, and the stress from dealing with many infectious diseases that children experience.
Another possibility is that specialization in pediatrics may limit your options as a nurse. One area of nursing that may have more room for employment and higher salaries could be geriatrics, or the care of the aged. In developed countries (like the United States) where nurses are better paid, those within the age bracket of 65 and above are more numerous than their counterparts in less developed countries, where children are the majority of the population. Your pediatric nurse skills may not be as in demand as geriatric nursing skills.