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Pediatric Nursing Job Duties, Responsibilities and Career Options

Pediatric nursing is the provision of health care nursing services to adolescents and children. Continue reading for an overview of programs and career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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Pediatric nurses work with patients under the age of 21 in hospitals, clinics and medical centers. They can work as general pediatric nurses or specialize in a particular medical area. No matter what they choose, the career of a pediatric nurse starts by becoming a registered nurse. It is then possible to continue with advanced education and training.

Essential Information

Pediatric nurses are typically registered nurses who assist doctors in providing medical and nursing care as well as information about diseases and treatment to patients up to 21 years old. Care is provided in hospitals, clinics, and private practices. Pediatric nurses play a special role in supporting young patients and their families by explaining patients' conditions and treatment options and providing emotional support. Depending upon the treatment plan, pediatric nurses may administer medications, place intravenous (IV) lines in patients, and administer other kinds of therapies. Pediatric nurses also consult with patients and their families to develop and maintain healthy life styles; they also provide long-term treatment for young patients. Depending upon a 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 Registered nursing license; National certification exam varies by specialty Nursing license by completion of the NCLEX-RN exam; other specialty requirements vary by state
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 35% for nurse practitioners* 16% for registered nurses*
Median Salary $98,190 for nurse practitioners (2015) * $52,455 for pediatric nurses (2016) **

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

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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 35% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also reported that the median annual salary of nurse practitioners was $98,190 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 16% from 2014 to 2024. PayScale.com specified that the median salary for pediatric nurses was $52,455 a year in 2016..

The responsibilities of a pediatric nurse depend upon their work environment and their specialty. Pediatric nurse practitioners usually provide basic pediatric health care and may have a specialty, such as neonatal care or acute disease treatment. Clinical nurse specialists in pediatrics focus on children and young adults with specific medical needs.

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