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Pediatric Nursing Job Duties, Responsibilities and Career Options

Pediatric nurses are typically registered nurses who provide health care to adolescents and children. They play a special role in supporting young patients and their families by explaining patients' conditions, treatment options, and providing emotional support. Pediatric nursing offers several career options that encompass a range of duties and responsibilities.

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Pediatric Nursing Job Duties

Pediatric nurses often assist doctors by providing medical care and information about diseases and treatment plans to their young patients. They can be found working in hospitals, clinics, and private practices. Depending on each patient's particular treatment plan, pediatric nurses job duties may include administering medications, placing intravenous (IV) lines on patients, and administering other kinds of therapies.

In many cases, general pediatric nurses plan and provide long-term treatment for young patients. Though pediatric care may signal the notion that these nurses work with kids only, pediatric nurses also care for patients up to 21 years old. Pediatric nurses consult with patients and their families to develop and maintain healthy living habits, modifying health goals as necessary. Depending on their experience level, additional pediatric nurse duties may include:

  • Conducting physicals
  • Child immunizations
  • Screening for disease
  • Diagnosing illnesses
  • Prescribing medications

Pediatric Nursing Responsibilities

The responsibilities of those in pediatric nursing may vary based on work setting and specialty. In hospital settings, pediatric nurses typically document patient progress through careful record keeping, notifying doctors in the event of any changes in a patient's situation. General pediatric nurses often assist doctors by checking vital signs, drawing blood, giving vaccinations, and taking patient histories during their visits.

Specialized Responsibilities

When working on patient care teams or within private practices, pediatric nurses may specialize in their care of children. They may also teach and educate, provide professional consultations and develop youth care programs. Even though they specialize in childcare, a pediatric nurse's responsibilities can cross into other territories regarding health of young patients. For instance, they might create at-home diet and exercise programs for obese children, educate new mothers on breastfeeding techniques or help parents deal with troubled teenagers.

Pediatric Nursing Career Options

There are several career options for those interested in pediatric nursing. According to the Society of Pediatric Nurses, general practice pediatric nurses are usually registered nurses (RN) who have received on-the-job training working with children (www.pedsnurses.org). They receive their RN credentials through a nursing board examination known as the NCLEX-RN. A general pediatric nurse can become an advanced practice nurse, such as a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) or clinical nurse specialist (CNS), by completing additional educational coursework or earning certifications.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)

PNP candidates are trained on disease management, prevention, and assessment. PNPs often provide primary healthcare for children at clinics, hospitals and pediatric medical offices. They may also work in surgical centers or intensive care units. Many PNPs specialize in specific illnesses or pediatric areas, such as acute care or neonatal care.

Clinical Nurse Specialist in Pediatrics (CNS)

CNSs usually care for infants, children, and adolescents who suffer from chronic or acute illnesses and conditions. They typically focus on young patients with specific needs, such as oncology patients, developmentally disabled patients, or special needs children. CNSs are licensed RNs who have graduated from an advanced degree program on a physical, developmental or physiological pediatric need.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of all registered nurses is expected to increase by 26% from 2010 to 2020. The BLS reported that the median annual salary of RNs was $65,470 in May 2012. PayScale.com specified that most pediatric nurses earn between $31,473 and $81,279 annually, as of November 2013.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics