Enjoy Working with Kids? Consider a Career as a Pediatric Nurse

Enjoy Working with Kids? Consider a Career as a Pediatric Nurse

If you’re a nursing student and you particularly enjoy working with infants, children, and adolescents, a career as a pediatric nurse is a career path worth finding out more about.

This week’s annual celebration of Pediatric Nurses Week, held this year from October 3 to 7, highlights the work pediatric nurses do. As you’re thinking about the career path or nursing specialty you want to pursue upon graduation, and a pediatric nursing specialty appeals to you, you can begin to make purposeful choices in your academic plan to help you reach your goals.

Pediatric nurses are registered nurses who work with patients aged birth to 18 (sometimes little older). Because this age span covers everything from a newborn to an older adolescent age, pediatric nurses will treat a wide scope of conditions and issues. From the very earliest infant development and vaccination schedules to the increasingly complex preadolescent stage or the adult issues some teens face, your work will require you to think critically and to call on a reserve of broad knowledge than can span growth and development, separation anxiety, social interaction, school and learning issues, social media use, mental health, substance use and abuse, and much more.

Pediatric nurses focus on their patients, but because their patients are so young, they will also work hand-in-hand with families or caretakers and other care providers. They’re adept at working with each family’s resources and lifestyles to offer the best care plans possible for the best outcomes. Pediatric nurses must develop an ability to listen carefully to children and to their families. Children often can’t articulate exactly what’s bothering them or what pain feels like, so by listening and asking questions of the children and families, they a get a much more accurate assessment of what’s going on. Sometimes, complaints of repeated tummy aches or headaches could be a sign of something more serious or even a symptom of anxiety. Nurses who work with children will frequently be committed to working within a community to help promote healthy choices, foster relationships, and distribute accurate information.

If working as a pediatric nurse interests you, you can work with your institution to gear your courses and clinicals to optimize any access to this career path as is possible. Breaks and time off allows you to schedule time to volunteer on a pediatric ward or to shadow a few pediatric nurses. Ask them about their educational path and how they charted a path to get to where they are. After graduation, seek out jobs in a pediatric unit that is of particular interest to you. That could be in a pediatrician’s office, a hospital, an outpatient setting, a neonatal intensive care unit, a pediatric cardiac unit, or others. As you gain knowledge and experience, you can choose to earn your certification as a pediatric nurse. To become a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CNP) look for exams from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB).

You can also extend your credentials by seeking an advanced degree like a master’s of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing (DNP) with a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) path. Although undergraduate level curriculum plans don’t generally have a specific pediatric-focused set of courses, you can think ahead an consider graduate-level advanced degrees that will deepen your knowledge and give you expertise in the patient population. Nurses with advanced degrees are in high demand and those in pediatric specialties are needed in all locations.