Pediatric Nurse Career Profile

A pediatric nurse (PN) evaluates and treats children. "Pediatrics" refers to the health care given to children from infancy until they are late teenagers. PNs play a key role in many children's lives.

Work Environment

They are employed in hospitals with pediatric care, doctors' offices with pediatric units and pediatric health care centers. They work closely in co-operation with pediatricians and other pediatric health care professionals. They can work in the office and in neonatal care, emergency rooms, cancer and hospice care and so on.

Responsibilities

  • They have to catheterize, start IVs, collect urine or blood samples, perform eye examinations and head-to-toe evaluations and record patients' vital signs. They check:
    • Body temperature with a thermometer
    • Blood pressure with a blood pressure cuff
    • Heartbeat and lungs with a stethoscope
    • Heart rate and breathing with a cardiopulmonary monitor
  • Interpret test results and diagnose and prepare a treatment plan.
  • Must focus on reducing the fear in children’s mind and facilitate problem solving for physicians for diagnostic purposes.
  • Educate or train patients’ caretakers about disease prevention and health maintenance.
  • Prepare home care procedures for patients with chronic illness like paralysis or juvenile diabetes.
  • Be open-minded about visiting schools or community fairs to conduct physical examinations or to immunize children.

Educational Requirements and Opportunities

  • PNs must first obtain their registration for practicing as a registered nurse (RN). For this, they will need to have completed a four-year degree in nursing.
  • They acquire on-the-job training at pediatric clinics or hospitals.
  • PNs can become certified pediatric nurses (CPNs).

Other Skills and Qualifications

  • An intense love for and the patience to treat children.
  • Knowledge of the rate of growth and development for children from infancy through adolescence, as their reactions to injuries and illnesses differ widely depending upon age.
  • A clear understanding of the psychology of children and adolescents.
  • Familiarity with immunization programs.
  • Experience working with pediatric trauma and pediatric dialysis patients.
  • Ability to build rapport with patients' families or caretakers.
  • A keen interest in updating one's knowledge in medical procedures.
  • A proclivity to take additional courses, such as pediatric advanced life support (PALS), when there is a need and to keep one's CPR certification up to date.

Work Schedule & Earnings

In hospitals, PNs usually work for 8 to 12 hours a day in shifts for 3 to 5 days a week plus a few weekends each month. PNs in doctors’ offices generally work only during the daytime for 5 days a week.

Their salary depends on their education, geographic location and work setting. Nurses with a master’s degree in pediatric specialization receive more salary than those with only bachelor’s degrees. The average income is between $38,623 and $66,825 for PNs with 1 to 4 years of experience.

Job Prospects

The position has a strong track record of growth, in part because of the increase in illnesses in children primarily due to fast-paced lifestyles and changes in their eating habits.