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Pediatric Nurse

Pediatric nurses, sometimes called peds nurses, care for children from birth to teenage years who have acute and chronic health conditions. They also manage pediatric basic well-care needs such as immunizations.  These nurses have advanced knowledge and training in child growth and development and in the diseases and conditions that specifically affect children. 

Pediatric nurses may specialize in a particular area, such as pediatric cardiology, pediatric oncology, or pediatric rehab. Caring for children requires special attention and focus on detecting changes in their status, which can rapidly decline. Most importantly, these nurses are caring for an entire family, so they must help parents and the child with any emotional and teaching needs. 

Education Requirements

All nurse specialty areas must complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and successfully pass the state’s NCLEX-RN exam. Some facilities prefer you to have a BSN but may accept an ADN.

How to advance/career pathway

Pediatric nurses must be BCLS certified and will need to become Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certified. It is highly encouraged they earn their Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) after gaining experience. You can apply to become a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) after working for 1,800 hours in pediatric nursing for 24 months or 3,000 hours in the last five years before taking the exam. You can also advance by getting an MSN or doctoral degree with a pediatric focus and become a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist (PCNS). Alternatively, you can become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) and gain additional certifications in primary care, acute care, and psychiatric care.

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Assess and monitor pediatric patient’s conditions
  • Administer medications, treatments and perform diagnostic tests
  • Assist the physician or PNP with procedures
  • Patient and family teaching about medical conditions
  • Advocate for the child and provide emotional support

MOST COMMON CASES

Depends on the pediatric setting, but the most common pediatric hospitalization diagnoses reported in 2016 were: 

  • Medical:  Pneumonia, Asthma, Bronchiolitis, Cellulitis, Dehydration, Urinary tract infections, Chemotherapy, Neonatal hyperbilirubinemia
  • Mental Health:  Major depression, Episodic mood disorder, Biopolar disorder
  • Surgical: Appendicitis, Humerus fracture, Pyloric stenosis 

*Source: Epidemiology of pediatric hospitalizations at general hospitals and freestanding children’s hospitals in the United States

See More Common Cases

How to become a

Pediatric Nurse

  1. Complete an ADN or BSN program in nursing
  2. Pass the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for your RN license
  3. Apply to work at a pediatric setting in a hospital, doctor’s office or clinic
  4. Get certified as a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) after meeting prerequisites

Specialty Groups and Communities

Society of Pediatric Nurses 

  • Mission: “The mission of the Society of Pediatric Nurses is to advance the specialty of pediatric nursing through excellence in education, research and practice.”
  • Cost: $70-115, annually.
  • Perks: Access to educational webinars, free CE units, research publications, and more.

Pediatric Nursing Journal  

  • Mission: “For more than 30 years, Pediatric Nursing has provided the pediatric nursing arena with current information on practice, policy, and research.”
  • Cost: $64-232, annually, depending on location (US vs. international).
  • Perks: Access to expanded, evidence-based clinical editorial content for the pediatric nurse at the bedside; the latest advances in pediatric nursing practice, research, administration, and education; in-depth analyses by the world's leading experts in pediatric nursing; and, CNE contact hours and pharmacology credits.

The Pros

  • Enjoy appreciation shown by children and families
  • Rewarding to bond with a child and reassure parents
  • Numerous settings to work and still care for kids

The Cons

  • Hard if family not as committed to improving a child’s health
  • Parents can be overbearing if a child in pain or not progressing
  • Emotionally difficult when pediatric patients do poorly or die
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Personality Traits

  • Keen observers
  • Careful listeners
  • Sensitive and empathetic
  • Organized, able to prioritize easily
  • Able to discern subtle changes or those the child is afraid to tell you
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Average Salary

Pediatric nurses typically make between $32k - $85k, with a median salary of $61,124. For the most up-to-date salary information, check out Salary Explorer.

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Certifications

American Heart Association: Pediatric Training

  • PALS
  • PEARS (Pediatric Emergency Assessment, Recognition and Stabilization)

Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)

  • Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN)
  • Additional PNP certifications in acute, chronic and psychiatric care plans
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Work Setting

Children’s hospitals or pediatric units, clinics, doctor’s offices, surgery centers, schools, and home care settings

Interested in learning more about what it’s like to be a Pediatric Nurse? We spoke to one to find out. Read What Does a Pediatric Nurse Do?