This week’s celebration of Pediatric Nurses Week (October 4-8) is a reminder of the specialized work these dedicated nurses offer to their young patients.

For anyone interested in a career as a pediatric nurse, it’s helpful to know the responsibilities of this job. Nurses who work with children are the biggest advocates for their young patients. From toddlers to teenagers, pediatric nurses will become familiar with, and fluent in, the issues facing these ages.

Nurses who work with children will have an understanding of everything from toilet training and toddler play habits to social media and adolescent decision making habits. Pediatric nurses will see children for well visits, minor illness like a stomach flu, and life-threatening diseases including cancer.

Because of the range of ages, potential conditions, and situations, pediatric nurses have to know myriad relevant medical information and also how any issues or concerns will impact the family. Working with so many different families while focusing on a young patient can be challenging for pediatric nurses. Families are also the best advocates for the child and so creating a good working relationship with families is especially helpful. Compassion and understanding go a long way, but calling attention to concerns is also a pediatric nurse’s responsibility.

The Society of Pediatric Nurses is an excellent resource for nurses who work with children and their families. It offers guidance on education, advocacy, and clinical information to cover the needs of just about any pediatric nurse.

Nurses in this specialty are in high demand and can find a satisfying career in one office or by changing the focus of their career. They can find work in a family practice, a specialty practice, a hospital, an outpatient or surgical clinic, schools, or even rehabilitation centers.

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Gaining certification is a professional development step that will give pediatric nurses a more complete and current skill set. The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board offers exams for initial or renewal certification as a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) or as a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Acute Care (CPNP-AC). Nurses who earn certification status help their careers and their patients.

By taking the exam, nurses are proving they have the most updated knowledge on evidence-based practices and on treating their young patients. This helps them give the best care possible as this specialty changes rapidly. Nurses who become certified are also demonstrating a specific commitment to being the best nurses they can and to gaining the tools necessary to make that happen. For a career move, this extra level is frequently noticed by your peers, supervisors, and organization. Nurses who are certified and keep their certification current are the nurse leaders organizations look for and depend on.

Happy Pediatric Nurses Week!

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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