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Pediatric Nursing Job Duties, Responsibilities and Career Options

Pediatric nursing is generally the practice of providing health care to adolescents and children. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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Essential Information

Pediatric nurses are typically registered nurses who assist doctors in providing medical care and information about diseases and treatment plans to patients up to 21 years old in hospitals, clinics, and private practices. They play a special role in supporting young patients and their families by explaining patients' conditions, treatment options, providing emotional support, and depending on the treatment plan, pediatric nurses may administer medications, place intravenous (IV) lines on patients, and administer other kinds of therapies. Pediatric nurses also consult with patients and their families to develop and maintain healthy living habits, or provide long-term treatment for young patients. Depending on the nurse's experience level, he or she may also conduct physicals, administer immunizations, screen for diseases, diagnose illnesses, and/or prescribe medication.

Career Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Clinical Nurse Specialist
Education Requirements Master's degree Bachelor's or Associate's degree or completion of an approved nursing program
Other Requirements Registerd nursing license; National certification exam varies by speciality Nursing license by completion of the NCLEX-RN exam; other specialty requirements vary by state
Projected Job Growth 34% from 2012-2022* 19% from 2012-2022*
Average Salary $97,990 annually (2014)* $52,589 annually (2015)**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **Payscale.com

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 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 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.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of all nurse practitioners is expected to increase by 34% between 2012 and 2022. The BLS also reported that the average annual salary of nurse practitioners was $97,990 in May 2014.

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.

The BLS reports that the employment of all registered nurses is expected to increase by 19% from 2012 to 2022. PayScale.com specified that most pediatric nurses earn an average of $52,589 a year in March 2015.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics