Pediatric Nurse Education Requirements and Career Information
A pediatric nurse is a registered nurse who specializes in the care of infants, children and adolescents. Aspiring pediatric nurses may complete bachelor's and master's degree programs in nursing. Many pediatric nurses are employed by hospitals, community centers and clinics. The overall job market in nursing is strong.
Education Requirements for a Pediatric Nurse
In order to work in pediatric nursing, students must become registered nurses (RN). An RN education may be achieved in a few different ways - through hospitals or educational institutions. Although the coursework may be slightly different, graduates from these programs are eligible to take the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become a registered nurse (www.ncsbn.org).
Hospitals offer nursing diploma programs which may take 2-3 years to complete. Students take courses in anatomy, physiology and child psychology in addition to working with healthcare professionals to learn nursing skills. Once ready, students may begin to manage patient care.
Associate's and Bachelor's Degree Programs
Aspiring pediatric nurses may also complete a 2-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Like nursing diploma programs, these degree programs offer classroom education combined with clinical experience. Coursework may include nursing ethics, health assessments and patient management. Students hoping to work as pediatric nurses may be able to enroll in pediatric-related electives or focus on pediatric care during their clinical education.
All working nurses must be licensed and registered. Aspiring pediatric nurses must become registered nurses by successfully passing the NCLEX-RN exam. This exam proves an understanding of fundamental skills and principles required for providing quality care in the workplace. Some states have additional requirements for licensure, so prospective candidates may consider consulting their respective state board.
Master of Science in Nursing
While registered nurses may be able to focus on pediatric care in their work, earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) allows students to focus on a specialty area. Individuals who wish to become advanced practice nurses and specifically care for children and infants may become pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs).
Applicants to a MSN program must either have a BSN. They may register in a 4-year BSN program or, if they have a diploma or associate degree, enter a 'bridge' program. Examples of bridge degree programs are LPN-BSN,LVN-RN, RN-MSN or ADN-MSN.
An MSN program with a focus on pediatric care may be completed in 2-3 years. Some programs require the completion of a research project in addition to their classroom education and clinical care experience. Courses introduce advanced concepts in nursing practice, addressing topics such as diagnostic reasoning, clinical pharmacology and acute childcare.
Pediatric nurses work closely with pediatricians to administer medication and provide routine medical care to children and infants. Some typical duties include inserting catheters, taking a patient's blood pressure and taking blood samples. Pediatric nurses also assist families with the psychological impact of having a child diagnosed with a disease or illness.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, (www.bls.gov), a 26% increase in the employment of registered nurses was expected for the 2010-2020 period. This growth is faster than the national average for all job growth in the same decade. The BLS also reported that the median annual salary for registered nurses was $65,470 as of May, 2012.
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