By Yolanda Smith, BPharm
Pediatric nursing is a specialization of the nursing profession that focuses on pediatrics and the medical care of children, from infancy to the teenage years. This is an important field because the health of children is distinct from that of adults due to the growth and development that occurs throughout childhood.
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It is worth noting that a certification as a pediatric nurse is not required to work as a nurse for children. However, obtaining specialized knowledge and training helps to improve job prospects and is recommended for nurses who have a passion for caring for children.
Pediatric nurses usually work in a multidisciplinary team with other health professionals to provide the best medical care possible for children. They play an important role to monitor the health of young patients and provide care and support throughout their treatment.
They may administer childhood vaccinations or immunizations and make sure that children keep up to date with their vaccination schedule. Additionally, a pediatric nurse communicates with the children and their families to explain their health and the phases of treatment.
A pediatric nurse may be involved in teaching and administration of children’s health, either to the community or other heath professionals. They can also help to conduct clinical research about health conditions that commonly affect children and the appropriate treatment methods.
Some pediatric nurses also choose to specialize further in a particular field of children’s health, such as anesthetics, oncology, or neurology.
Education and Training
As pediatric nursing is a specialization of nursing, it is necessary for a nurse to first undergo the appropriate training with an undergraduate degree in nursing, before beginning the specialization.
After graduating with a Bachelors degree in nursing and passing the examination to become a Registered Nurse, an individual wishing to become a pediatric nurse then needs to complete a Masters degree in Nursing Practice and Doctorate degree.
The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) offers certification as a pediatric nurse. This certification requires the pediatric nurse to complete the appropriate education requirement and a minimum amount of time of work experience, currently 1,800 hours of clinical experience with pediatric patients in the last two years.
Pediatric Nurse Career
Individuals well suited to a career as a pediatric nurse is likely to have the following traits:
- Cheerful and friendly
- Good communication skills with people of all ages
- Organized and able to follow complex treatment plans
- Works well under pressure
- Patience and willingness to adapt
- Interest and love for children
Pediatric nurses may work in a range of environments, including hospitals, private pediatrician clinics, nursing homes, schools, government agencies, and social services. Similar to other types of nurses, pediatric nurses who work in a hospital environment provide round-the-clock care and, as a result, work in shifts including time at night, on weekends and public holidays.
The demand for all Registered Nurses is expected to grow in coming years and nurses with a specialization such as pediatric nurses are likely to have more positive job prospects.
Reviewed by Susha Cheriyedath, MSc
Last Updated: Aug 8, 2016