What You Should Know To Become a Pediatric Nurse

Linda Ramirez
Published on Aug 5, 2020. Updated on Sep 15, 2020.

In today’s guest post from Laboure College, learn the ins-and-outs of pediatric nursing, one of the most popular and rewarding career tracks in nursing.

There are a large number of career options available in the medical and healthcare industries. And nursing is an evergreen profession in the medical and healthcare industry. Especially when there are plenty of opportunities are waiting for you to choose from such as a registered nurse (RN), licensed practical nurse (LPN), and so on. Like any other sub branches of nursing, pediatric nursing is also a highly rewarding career that offers healthcare to infants and children.

If you are interested in both working with children and the healthcare industry, then pediatric nursing will be your best answer. As you may have considered your job as a nurse, it’s important to know that you should have a naturally nurturing and caring personality to deal with every child. So, what exactly do you need to know to become a pediatric nurse?

Educational requirements to become a pediatric nurse

To become a pediatric nurse, you should have to get the right certifications first. To become an authoritative nurse in your field, you have to earn your certification as a registered nurse. Based on your interest and future job opportunity options, Laboure College helps identify the differences between an RN vs BSN certification course.

This means getting a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is your first step. Once you graduate, you’ll have to take and pass the NCLEX®-RN to start practicing your job as a pediatric nurse. If you have prepared well, you can clear your NCLEX-RN in the very first attempt. Volunteering at a school or child care facility will help you to better adapt to children's behavior and identifying early symptoms of illness.

After receiving your license in nursing you can start practicing as a registered nurse in pediatricians or other healthcare facilities. In-house training will help you to study the behavioral patterns of children and their parents. You might need additional training if you are working with children who need special care or medical attention. To become a licensed pediatric nurse in the field you have to take your Master’s degree in nursing.

Osmosis illustration of a nurse watching over an infant in the NICU.

The main four pathways of pediatric nursing

As an individual, if you wish to be a part of a specific type of pediatric nursing, you may need additional practical training in the sector. Here are four main pediatric nursing career ways:

1. Pediatric Registered Nurse

In a Pediatric registered nurse or direct nursing care pathway, you have to work with children in hospitals and a doctor’s clinic. Providing routine checkup for children of all ages, and administering and ensuring they are receiving all the care that is required as per their nursing care plan. The basic duties of a pediatric registered nurse would include giving developmental screenings and immunizations, working with parents and families to cope with the stress of a child’s illness, being present to communicate with the parents when needed, observing vital signs and changes and so on.

2. Developmental Disability Nurse

They provide special care for children who require specific care for a wide range of mental and developmental disabilities that could affect the children's performance and basic life and learning skills. Developmental disability nurses have to work around with children who have Autism spectrum disorder, Rett syndrome, Asperger's syndrome, and Down syndrome. The duties may include assisting and educating them with feeding and bodily functions, educating their parents and loved one’s about their disabilities and medical equipment, helping the children achieve independent ability, providing required assistance to improving their learning and communication skills, and so on.

3. Neonatal Nursing

Neonatal nurses provide proper care and support for infants, children who are born prematurely, and infants who need special healthcare support and functionalities such as infections, heart conditions, and other birth defects. Additional duties would include monitoring and providing support for infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), educating parents about their child’s health progress, ensuring all the medical equipment and treatments are working effectively on the child, and so on.

4. Palliative Pediatric Nursing

They provide special care for terminally ill children to alleviate their suffering and ensure they receive the best care. They are highly trained on how to discuss the critical condition or death so that they can effectively convey the bad news and condolence to the child’s parents. Other duties would include providing critical information for the family to make proper decisions, ensuring clear communication between physicians, parents, and nurses, and so on.

Rules to follow in pediatric nursing

1. Maintain a professional distance between the patient and their family.

This should apply to all professionals in the healthcare field. Children can be adorable, and if you love children it is possible that you will grow attachment and sentiments for them. But this can be harder when their condition is critical or they are facing death. 

2. Train yourself well to calm the anxious parents' minds. 

This might be your biggest challenge as a pediatric nurse—calming anxious parents or informing them about the bad news. Prepare yourself and take sufficient training on how to better communicate with the child’s parents.

3. Bring positive vibes to your everyday work. 

Young children can read your positive energy. Giving them hope and positive energy is also some kind of therapy. It will assure them that good things will happen.

Osmosis illustration showing the importance of a positive attitude in pediatric care.

4. Maintain good communication with your little patients. 

They might be sad, anxious, fearful or they might be in a panic stage. Assure and calm them. And also educate parents about the children’s condition and the possible outcomes and all.

5. Look out for abusive parents. 

As a nurse, you may have to deal with various kinds of patients and their parents. Diagnosis of child abuse is a difficult one as the children might be too young to speak out or too afraid of their parents.  

6. You will have to take care of yourself. 

As a nurse, it’s common that you will have a tight shift and you will have to work around the clock to care for your patients. Especially pediatric nurses who work with critically ill children. It’s also important to maintain your health and mental wellness to avoid compassion fatigue and nursing burnout.

About Linda

Linda Ramirez is a freelance writer specializing in the health and education sector. She graduated from the University of Ohio and currently resides in Maryland. In addition to health and education, she also takes an interest in SEO strategies.

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