Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Nurse: Salary Info and Job Duties

Pediatric intensive care unit nurses require formal education and experience. Learn about the degrees, job duties, salary and licensure to see if this is the right career for you.

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Registered nurses who care for children in hospital intensive care units are pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) nurses. These nurses may choose to take voluntary certification before entering this specialization.

Essential Information

Pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who observe and care for children of all ages in hospital intensive care units. They work in shifts that can include days, nights and holidays. Education and training for these nurses can include completing diplomas, associate's degrees or bachelor's degrees in nursing. All aspiring RNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination to become licensed.

Salaries for this specialty career often vary by location, employer and level of experience. According to PayScale, PICU nurses are among the best compensated of all types of intensive care nurses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics reports that job growth for registered nurses in general is increasing at a faster than average rate for all occupations.

Required Education Diploma, associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing
Other Requirements Mandatory licensure; voluntary certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 16% for all registered nurses
Median Salary (2015)* $67,490 for all registered nurses

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Salary Information

PayScale reported that ICU nurses averaged $28.99 as of January 2016 and the average hourly wage for pediatric nurses was $25.69.

Job Duties

Pediatric intensive care unit nurses have three main duties: monitoring patients, providing appropriate care and informing patients and their families on the status of procedures. Nurses are trained to perform life-saving, invasive interventions to stabilize patients and apply crisis management techniques. They are generally assigned to only 1-3 patients in order to allot them more time to handle these complicated cases. Nurses are also required to be knowledgeable on state and federal regulations regarding treatment and may function as patient advocates for those who are unable to do so.

Once patients are admitted and stabilized, nurses obtain health histories and diagnose their status in order to create an individualized patient care plan, including non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic treatments. Nurses then implement appropriate treatments and monitor, record and evaluate responses. Additionally, nurses may analyze physical, psychological and behavioral traits and assess potential risks. Other duties include administering medication, addressing pain management and monitoring wounds for infection.

Nurses may provide special assistance to families, including guidance on preventative care and the potential risks of treatments. While informing families on patients' statuses, nurses may also promote positive health behaviors, perform consultations, provide referrals and facilitate patient transition from the PICU to other health care facilities. Additionally, nurses may counsel families on further treatment, end of life care and organ donation.

From 2014-2024 the job growth expected for all registered nurses will be much faster than average when compared to all occupations. These professionals earn roughly $67,000 per year. Nurses interested in specializing in pediatric intensive care may opt to take voluntary certification before entering this field.

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