Becoming a pediatric nurse is a great choice for those who want to work in a healthcare setting with children. Some nurses find this to be a much more dynamic role than the work that they have previously undertaken with adult patients.
Nurses specializing in pediatrics will be involved in a child’s life from birth until early adulthood. They will be responsible for health screenings and assessments to ensure each of their patients develops as they should during their early years. Pediatric nurses are also responsible for treating a wide range of common conditions that affect children, such as ear infections and injuries.
If you currently work as a registered nurse but would like to transition into a more family-oriented environment, then a career in pediatric nursing could be for you.
If this is the case, then you will want to know the exact route into this next step of your career, and you can read on to find out what that is!
Becoming a Pediatric Nurse
As a registered nurse, you will already have a solid foundation for becoming a pediatric specialist. If you have at least one year of experience in a nursing role already, then you should be able to join a pediatric nurse practitioner program without any issues.
To join a top-ranked DNP pediatric nurse practitioner program, it is also often the case that you will need to have undertaken additional work experience placements. Furthermore, many program providers will also request that your nursing license be unencumbered, meaning you have the full and unrestricted capacity to practice.
Working as a Pediatric Nurse
Nurses within this specialty can be found in an array of different working environments. There is no need to commit to one for the duration of your career, and you will have the freedom to take different jobs when the opportunity arises.
The most common places for a pediatric nurse to practice are:
- A school
- A hospital
- A private practice
- A surgical clinic
Communicating with Children
Regardless of the setting that you choose to work within, it will be essential that you can communicate well with children.
Unlike nurses who primarily treat adults, those who work in pediatrics will often have patients who cannot completely grasp what is going on. Children cannot effectively express their symptoms or their needs, which puts much more pressure on the healthcare professional to be at their best. You must learn to be intuitive to a patient’s needs and to become a fantastic listener.
It is also important to remember that the information children provide cannot always be taken as being true. This is not always a deliberate misgiving of information and can be because they do not completely understand, or they have imagined something. Knowing when to confirm specific details with the parents of your patients is an essential skill when you make the move into pediatric nursing.
Building Trust with Children
Being able to build trust with your young patients quickly is an essential part of succeeding in pediatric nursing. If your patient does not trust you, then it can be hard to perform simple tasks, such as taking a blood sample or giving an injection.
If you do not have a great deal of experience working with children, then you might find building trust with them to be quite challenging at first.
In order to put children at ease, it can be helpful if you are physically at the same level as them, so sit next to the patient or squat down so that you are at the same height when talking to them. This is a very simple way to begin building a bond and to encourage a child to cooperate with you.
It is also a good idea to always be happy and cheerful, and to talk to the child with a smile on your face. This helps each patient to stay positive and remain calm. Using the child’s name is another great way to begin building a relationship with this child and to portray yourself as a friend.
Reassuring children and praising them often for completing simple tasks will further serve as great ways to keep them happy and cooperative in clinical settings. Giving your patients small jobs that assist your work with them, such as holding an item until you need it, can help them to feel at ease in the situation. This can also help to distract them from anything unpleasant that is taking place.
Work Potential and Salary Expectations
Registered nurses who go on to work in pediatrics can generally enjoy good job prospects and a desirable salary.
Pediatric nurses are always in demand, and this is due to a shortage of nurses in general combined with the never-ending need for care in child populations.
Salary expectations vary across the US from state to state, with average salaries for the country being between $52,000 and $87,000.
The various roles and responsibilities within pediatric nursing vary. This is dependent both on your level of seniority as well as the setting in which you are working.
The most common tasks that you will likely have to undertake regularly include:
- Physical examinations of patients
- Conducting developmental screenings
- Diagnosing common illnesses
- Treating common illnesses
- Administering vaccinations and immunizations
- Caring for chronically / critically ill patients
- Interpreting diagnostic laboratory test results
- Ordering and administering medications
Working with seriously unwell children can, of course, take its toll on your mental health over time. This is not a job that will always leave you feeling elated at the end of each day, although that can certainly be the case when you have a positive outcome for a patient.
You must prepare yourself emotionally for the daily realities of working as a pediatric nurse. Being able to disconnect at the end of each day and being able to establish a good balance within your life is going to be essential.
It will be helpful for you to develop hobbies outside of work, such as exercise and traveling, to help you create this balance.