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Difference Between Pediatric Nurse & Pediatrician

Pediatric nurses and pediatricians are medical professionals who specialize in the treatment of children. Continue reading to learn about the different training requirements, anticipated salaries, job prospects and duties of these two careers.

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Comparing Pediatric Nurse to Pediatrician

Pediatric nurses and pediatricians provide medical care to children under the age of 18. Pediatricians are licensed medical doctors who've completed medical school, while nurses have completed undergraduate education and secured licensure. Pediatricians earn a much higher salary than pediatric nurses, although the job growth expectations for nurses are notably higher than the anticipated growth for pediatricians. Take a look at basic career information to determine which career is right for you.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary* (2016) Job Outlook* (2014-2024)
Pediatric Nurse Diploma, Associate's Degree or Bachelor's Degree; License $68,450 (for all Registered Nurses) 16% (for all Registered Nurses)
Pediatrician Medical Degree; License $226,408 10%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Pediatric Nurse vs. Pediatrician

Pediatric nurses work under the direction of pediatricians and unlike pediatricians they are not qualified to diagnose patients. They follow patient care plans, monitor patients and assist pediatricians with patient examinations and tests. Pediatricians are responsible for ensuring that the children they care for have age-appropriate vaccinations and are healthy. When necessary, they may diagnose a child's illness, or they may refer children to specialists for medical tests if they have concerns about their health.

Pediatric Nurse

Pediatric nurses work with doctors and other medical staff to coordinate and plan patient care. In addition to their administrative and medical duties, they may also provide emotional support to the patient or family members and teach them about pain management. They may work in a pediatrician's office or a hospital or medical clinic, and can expect to spend most of their workday standing. Their hours may vary based on where they work. Those who work in doctor's offices may primarily work daytime hours during the week, while pediatric nurses employed in hospitals or medical clinics may work weekends, holidays and overnight shifts, as well as daytime or evening shifts.

Job responsibilities of a pediatric nurse include:

  • Update patient charts
  • Assist medical staff performing tests on patients
  • Give patients medicine as directed by the physician
  • Educate patients and their parents

Pediatrician

Once pediatricians have earned a bachelor's degree, they must complete medical school and obtain practical experience through an internship. In addition to diagnosing illnesses and ordering diagnostic tests, they counsel patients on preventive methods, nutrition and hygiene. They may have their own office, work in a clinic with other medical professionals, or work in a hospital. Pediatricians should be fit and physically able to work on their feet for prolonged periods of time, especially if they work in hospitals. Pediatricians must be observant and take note of even subtle symptoms that may be affecting their patients so that they can diagnose their condition correctly.

Job responsibilities of a pediatrician include:

  • Examine patients
  • Design a treatment plan
  • Review patient progress
  • Prescribe medication
  • Consult with other medical professionals to diagnose a patient

Related Careers

Since pediatric nurses work with children, someone interested in this career field may want to specialize in working with babies and become a neonatal nurse specialist. People considering a career as a pediatrician may also want to think about a profession as a pediatric surgeon, since these surgeons specialize in operating on children.

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