Whenever it comes to choosing careers, a pediatric nurse would be such a great choice. After all, many people find the nursing career attractive. But before you make the decision, you should be privy to what you are walking into. Information is power and this article will empower you with all that you may wish to know about pediatrics starting from the known to unknown for easy comprehension.
- Who is a pediatric nurse?
- Training in the United States
- Optional certifications
- Roles of a pediatric nurse
- Areas of specialization for pediatric nurses
- Common child diseases you need to be aware of
- Where will you work?
- Salary expectation
- Pediatric affiliated organizations
- Crucial sources of information
A pediatric nurse provides health care to children right from the time they are born to the level of becoming young teenagers. It is a diversified field and you may have to specialize in one or 2 areas. A newborn would require special care which is different from what an adult would need. A child is just beginning to develop and it will need maximum attention to growing and developing without any life-threatening conditions. Their needs and anatomies are different thus they face a variety of health issues which would need instant attention for them to become strong adults.
It is not just everyone who would become a nurse in the field of pediatrics because there are prerequisites on a personal and general level. These attributes include:
- A good communicator. You will require excellent communicational skills to understand a newborn and a parent who may be in pain.
- Patience. You require patience to give a few-months-old baby what he may need.
- Genuine love for children. Since you will be dealing with them all of your time, you must be loving them.
- Deep understanding of health issues that affect young children. It would be in vain if you do not have well-founded information and knowledge on healthy problems and needs of the young ones.
- Friendliness and cheerfulness. Children are easily scared and if you are ever serious and unwelcoming this may not be your thing.
Your childhood passion is not enough to make you a nurse working with children; you need 4 or so years of intensive training to start your path towards that goal. Besides your registered nurse (RN) license, you also need to sit and pass the Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) exam which is a true reflection of your expertise and knowledge. To get the RN licensure; you may be a holder of diploma, a degree or higher degree, BSN or MSN and each of them should be accompanied by a minimum of 1800 hours as a pediatric practitioner. In the U.S. slightly above 20,000 nurses have the CPN certification. It is compulsory that you take further training in child care which forms the basis to the daily work for you.
The training is composed of formal education and clinical practice garnered during school and afterwards. For the undergraduate, there are 2 options towards becoming a pediatric practitioner:
- Bachelors of science (shortened as BSN); this course takes 4 years and thus prepares students for their RN exams. The topics are offered on a broad basis in the pediatric nursing field and the supporting areas such as ethics and good communication. Most of the students here already hold their RN qualification on their way to CPN registration and practice.
- Associate of science (ASN) is a 2-year program that is the initial preparation to a career in nursing. It is a foundation course to the nursing field and covers areas such as diseases, human anatomy, and the spread of disease from hosts to real victims. Some other areas covered include oral communication and psychology.
Even after training, you will not count yourself as fully qualified to become a pediatric practitioner. That is why we began by saying that it is a career for the passionate ones. There is a legibility criterion that must be met and here is the breakdown:
- Active and current RN license within a state or a territory of the U.S.
- For the international pediatric practitioners, you will require a legally recognized document in the country you choose for your practice.
- Have practiced for 2 years as a registered nurse and it should be full time.
- For the last 3 years, you should have at least 2,000 hours in a pediatric nursing field.
- For the last 3 years, you should have had 30 hours of continued nursing education within a pediatric nursing field.
With all these requirements met, you are eligible to become a pediatric practitioner and enjoy the career you have always dreamt about since your childhood.
To be super qualified, which is something you may need to be competitive, you should take additional certifications which are not compulsory. Here are 2 such certifications for your consideration;
- Pediatric Nurse Credential
- Pediatric Nurse CE’s
So now you are qualified to be a pediatric practitioner in whatever specialization you have chosen. Your next question will be what roles are you expected to do. Here are some of the chief duties which may come your way in your place of work;
- Child immunizations. Children have to be kept safe from early development diseases and conditions. It is your duty to give them these immunizations at the right time. It is detrimental if they are not given during the appropriate time and right dosage.
- Medicine prescription. Once in a while, children get common ailments just like the rest of us. They will need medication for such diseases. Their dosage is not what would be appropriate for an adult. This is a tricky balance and your expertise comes to test during such procedures.
- Screening and diagnosis. Before any treatment is given to a child, screening and diagnosis should be done thoroughly. This is the first step before you can prescribe any medication.
- Conducting physicals. Sometimes you will be required to make a physical examination and tell whether there is a problem with a child. It requires a keen eye and knowledge to make such an examination without the help of any test tools.
- Guidance and counseling. As much as you are trained to deal with child cases, their parents are also under your docket. You will be required to give them professional guidance on how to give the optimum care to their child. That is why in the general nursing course you studied psychology and oral communication that come in handy at such matters as this.
The work of a pediatric practitioner is not in any way a one-dimensional task; it is composed of parts and parcels and you definitely will not be a master of all of them. That is why you will have to choose an area of specialization. It has to be a choice that you feel competent and passionate about. For your review, here are areas you can choose:
- Pediatric oncology nurse
- Early care pediatrics
- Acute care pediatric nurse
- General care pediatric practitioner
- Maternity pediatric nurse
As stated earlier on, knowledge on child health issues is very crucial. The diseases you may come across every now and then include:
It is a common question to ask about the places where you expect to get a job once you are an eligible pediatric nursing practitioner. Generally, you will get a job in health facilities that offer medical care to babies, children, and young teens. Public hospitals, private clinics, nursing homes, and social service agencies are places you may consider beginning your career.
Well, nobody would want to work for peanuts and that is why you may be interested in what you are to expect as a qualified pediatric practitioner. Your salary may not be cut-dry in whichever institution you may find work since there are differences in remuneration in each one of them. In annual average, the median salary for a practicing pediatric is $ 660, 640 for those with RN qualification and $102, 670 for those with NP qualification.
Many professionals have affiliated organizations which support and ensure standards are maintained. The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) is the overall quality and standardization body but it is supported by other organizations which include:
- Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN)
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
- National Association of Pediatric Nursing Practitioner (NAPNAP)
- Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (AFPNP)
- Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON)
- Institute of Pediatric Nursing (IPN)
- North Pediatric Cardiology Nurses Association (NPCNA)
You may be a certified pediatric practitioner which is the major hurdle to cross. But to be abreast with new trends with your areas of specialization you will need to inject new information from time to time. Where can you get credible information on pediatric nursing?
- Pediatric nursing journal
- Journal of pediatric nursing
Both of these journals contain authoritative information in this field and a copy would be adequate to keep you informed and bolster your efficiency and effectiveness.
It is a general phenomenon that the need for nurses will keep ballooning. Projections show that in the next decade, the need for pediatric nurses will almost double. Your training and experience will get you the job you want. Are you ready now to become a pediatric nurse? You have all that you need to know and it is a good preparation for what you may find ahead. Even for those who are already practicing, they may need a review of what they are expected to do. Good luck with pursuing your dream career.