Pediatric nurses work with infants, children and adolescents

A Guide to Pediatric Nursing Careers

Registered nurses have a wide variety of options when it comes to choosing a specialty. One of the most popular selections for these professionals is pediatrics. In this field, nurses work with patients of the younger generation – infants, children and adolescents – to offer routine care and treat and prevent more serious illness. While their RN title may enable nurses to work within pediatric departments, gaining a RN-BS in Nursing degree can earn them a more prominent position within this field. Nurses with a RN-BS in Nursing have the option to continue their education with a MSN degree, earning them the title of pediatric nurse practitioner.

A strong career outlook

Nursing professionals will always be needed within the healthcare field. Medical facilities – like hospitals and clinics – and other places of employment would struggle to function without them. The job outlook for both registered nurses and nurse practitioners is strong – witnessing 16 and 35 percent growth by 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In addition, these health care providers stand to earn a competitive annual salary. Registered nurses are compensated around $68,500 per year, while nurse practitioners make around $107,500 per year. These salaries apply to the various specialties of nursing. Therefore, an RN in pediatric nursing would stand to earn the same salary as one working with adult patients in most cases. The same is true of nurse practitioners, who are compensated more due to their advanced education.

A different set of skills

No two nurses or specialties are the same. Every healthcare professional in this field has his or her own personal strengths and weaknesses that aid and abet his or her career. Pediatrics can be especially challenging as it involves caring for and interacting with youngsters and their parents or guardians who may be dealing with life-threatening or fatal conditions.
As such, pediatric nurses have to exhibit certain skills to be successful in the field. While an authentic passion for children’s well-being is necessary, these professionals must also be friendly, patient and have the ability to communicate effectively to both kids and their parents, according to Every Nurse. Furthermore, pediatric nurses have to be able to put on a brave face in challenging situations, as families are looking to healthcare providers as a means of support, stability and confidence.

Here are some examples of nursing opportunities in pediatric care:

Pediatric RN or NP

Registered nurses can apply for positions within the pediatric field, gaining the experience necessary to be successful in the department while earning their BS in Nursing. With that degree on their resume, RNs can specialize in pediatrics – working specifically in that department moving forward, according to the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.
RNs can go on to become pediatric nurse practitioners by studying for a MSN degree. This may lead to a higher salary, and comes with increased responsibility and additional healthcare tasks on the job. Upon acquiring either of these nursing titles, pediatric nurses can take advantage of even more job possibilities in the field.

Intensive care nurse

Depending on the severity of their condition, babies and children may be sent to the intensive care unit, where they will receive around-the-clock observation to monitor any progress or declines in their health. This hospital department offers two options to those in the pediatric nursing field: the Pediatric ICU or the Neonatal ICU. The difference is that the former cares for patients up to 17 years old, while the latter is specifically for newborn infants.

PICU and NICU nurses are registered nurses and need a BS in Nursing degree to practice in addition to certification from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. A day in the life of these professionals can include administering medications, operating ventilation machines, performing CPR, counseling and educating family members and providing total care for patients who may not be able to bathe or reposition themselves, according to Lippincott’s Nursing Career Directory.

Pediatric nurse administrator

After working within a hospital or clinic for a period of time, registered nurses may be looking to take on more of a leadership role. Joining facility administration can offer healthcare providers additional responsibilities, including managing and supervising their peers as well as overseeing the employees in the pediatric department.

This role requires registered nurses to have a BS degree and a few years of experience in the field. Those with a MSN are also eligible for this type of position. Hospital management will be looking for someone who will be able to bridge the gap between executives and staff and bring new ideas to the table in terms of how to improve efficiency and effectiveness in their field. Due to their time working with pediatric patients, nurse administrators in this department will have insight into areas needing improvement, how the job works and best practices for tasks such as patient interaction and education.

This position offers pediatric nurses another means of job growth. While earning a MSN degree and becoming a nurse practitioner is always an option, registered nurses with at least a BS in Nursing can work their way up the ladder in to management. Administrators could transition to directors, overseeing a larger number of nurses and taking on even more responsibility within the pediatrics department or the nursing sector as a whole.

School nurse

A strong advantage of pediatric nursing is the range of environments in which professionals can operate. Although many find employment in hospitals and clinics, others search for positions with more family-friendly hours.

Becoming a certified school nurse offers the flexibility that some healthcare professionals desire. Although the position counts registered nurses and licensed professional nurses among those that can apply, the National Association of School Nurses recommended hiring RNs with a BS in Nursing degree under their belts. To earn their certification from the National Board for Certification of School Nurses, healthcare providers must submit an academic transcript or proof of current licensure demonstrating they earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher. The salary of a school nurse adheres to the BLS statistics for registered nurses and nurse practitioners but can vary based on location, experience, certifications and type of school.

The role of a school nurse encompasses various challenging tasks. While these professionals treat injuries that take place on school property, they are also responsible for distributing scheduled medications, assisting children with disabilities, monitoring allergies and health conditions and educating students and educators alike on disease prevention and management, according to American Educator.

Earning a RN-BS in Nursing degree from Rutgers University will enable registered nurses to take advantage of the various opportunities within pediatrics.

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