Pediatric nurses work with youth, children and families performing actions such as illness management, health promotion and health restoration. The pediatric nurse was not officially established until the field of pediatrics was in 1855. During this time the first child-focused hospital, The Children’s Hospital, was founded in the United States in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Throughout the latter part of the 1800s, children’s hospitals were opened in Washington DC, San Francisco, New York City, St. Louis, Albany and Detroit.
During the early American years, children were treated with folk medicine by family members, or were treated by the midwives of that time period. Only the wealthiest Americans were able to have their children seen by a physician.
Pediatric Nurse Salary
The median annual salary for a pediatric nurse is around $70,000. The top 10 percent can earn up to $150,000 per year while the lowest 10 percent earn around $30,000 per year.
A variety of factors come into play when determining how much pediatric nurses earn each year. Your employer and where this employer is located makes a big difference. For example, a nurse working in a pediatric hospital in a major city is going to earn more than a nurse working in a pediatric unit at a rural hospital. Your level of experience and education, specialization and exact area of pediatric medicine will all also play a role in your salary.
Pediatric Nurse Job Description
Pediatric nurses work with children of all ages and can work with patients up to 21 years of age. They can also work with adults that have had lifelong pediatric disorders, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia. They work in a large variety of settings, including major hospitals, pediatric clinics, urban free clinics, doctor’s offices, home care, juvenile detention centers, pediatric intensive care units, public health centers and schools.
Pediatric nurses will perform a wide variety of functions throughout their shift. Some common tasks include:
- Take and monitor patient vital signs
- Perform EKGs and other diagnostic testing
- Obtain patient history and information
- Educate patients and their families about diseases, home care instructions, lab results, procedures and diagnostic testing
- Communicate with doctors and other members of the healthcare team
- Arrange for hospital admissions
- Sterilize and clean equipment
- Record patient history and keep parents and guardians informed
- Process patient paperwork
- Stock and clean examination rooms
These are just very basic tasks and they will vary greatly from job to job. Some facilities have pediatric nurses doing the majority of the care, such as home healthcare agencies, and other facilities have pediatric nurses working directly with a team of medical professionals.
Pediatric Nurse Education
Pediatric nurses are most often registered nurses who have chosen to work in the field of pediatrics. However, you can pursue a master’s degree and become a pediatric advanced practice nurse, which is usually a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist that specializes in pediatrics. In general, a pediatric nurse must possess the following:
- Associate degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing
- State licensure as a registered nurse
- Pediatric nursing experience
Becoming a registered nurse will take about two years on the associate degree level and three to four years on the bachelor’s degree level. You will need to complete classroom instruction and will have clinicals with each nursing class. Typical classes and clinicals include the following:
- Medical surgical nursing
- Acute care nursing
- Obstetrical nursing
- Pediatric nursing
- Geriatric nursing
- Psychiatric nursing
- Nursing fundamentals
You will also take a variety of science courses, such as:
- Anatomy and physiology
Pediatric Nurse Certification and Licensing
Pediatric nurses are licensed registered nurses working in the field of pediatrics. You will need at least a National Council Licensure Examination f or Registered Nurses license. This licensed must be renewed every two years through your State Board of Nursing.
While not all employers require it, many pediatric nurses also pursue their Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) training through the American Heart Association. This will increase your chances of working with more critical patients. The full course will take about 15 hours the first time you take it. When it is time to renew your certificate, this takes around eight hours. You will need to renew this certificate every two years to stay current.
Pediatric nurses can pursue a wide variety of certifications, depending on the type of pediatrics that they want to practice. Each of these vary in terms of requirements, but all require some type of registered nursing experience (usually a minimum of one to two years), some type of examination, renewal requirements and continuing education credits related to the area of pediatrics they are working in. The following are pediatric certifications that pediatric nurses can pursue:
- Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse – Given by the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation
- Pediatric Nurse Certification – Given by the American Nurses Credentialing Center
- Certified Pediatric Nurse – Given by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse – Given by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
Pediatric Nurse Job Outlook
There is an expected increase in job openings of 22 percent between 2008 and 2018 for nurses in this field. In this 10-year span, it is estimated that 581,500 new pediatric nurses will be needed to keep up with the demand.
In the United States, those under 25 years of age are not giving birth at the rate that they used, resulting in record lows. However, those ages 40 and over are giving birth at a higher rate. In fact, this is the highest level of birth for those over 40 since 1967. Since women approaching older age can have additional issues during pregnancy, this has led to the need for more healthcare providers in pediatrics to help children and families with conditions like autism, Downs syndrome and respiratory disorders.