What is a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Nurse?
Nurses can specialize in specific fields of care. One specialty field is that of pediatric intensive care unit nursing (commonly known as PICU). This specialized care is given to critically ill children of all ages at a hospital, but it should be noted that not all hospitals have a specialized PICU facility.
PICU nurses have advanced training and a smaller patient load than that of a typical RN. This is because each patient in the PICU requires more intensive and constant care than a patient in a general hospital ward.
The PICU is where young patients can receive a variety of acute treatments, including post-operative care; breathing therapy (if they are undergoing serious complications from a respiratory ailment, like asthma); help for some heart problems, and emergency medical assistance after an accident. Children may be moved to an intermediate care unit or to a regular ward once their condition has improved and they can be moved out of the PICU.
|Educational Requirements||Degree in nursing, state RN licensing, and advanced training in ICU pediatrics; clinical nurse specialists (CNS) will need a master's degree|
|Job Skills||Assessing patients, taking samples for lab tests, providing compassionate medical care, communicating effectively with other medical providers and parents|
|Average Base Pay (2019)||$69,270*|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||15% (all registered nurses)**|
Sources: *Glassdoor.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Training for Pediatric Nurses
The job of a nurse, especially one working in the PICU, is to provide care and comfort to the patient and to the patient's family during a medical crisis. To prepare for this, students earn a degree in nursing and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLX-RN). To provide more advanced care, pediatric nurses may obtain a CPN, CPNP-PC, or CPNP-AC certification from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. Those who wish to pursue advanced standing in the field may also earn a master's degree to become a clinical nurse specialist (CNS).
Pay and Benefits for ICU Nurses
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics gave the 2018 average pay for all registered nurses as $75,510 per year, with a 15% increase expected in the number of jobs available from 2016 to 2026. Glassdoor.com reports that, as of April 2019, the average yearly base pay for a PICU RN is $69,270, with pay ranging from $47,000 on the low end to $91,000 on the high end.
According to Payscale.com in 2019, the average salary of a 'nurse, intensive care unit (ICU) with pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) skills' was $68,748. Payscale.com also noted that the salary for ICU nurses in general increases the longer a nurse is in the field. Entry level ICU nurses (those with 0-5 years of experience) have reported earning an average yearly salary of $59,000. Experienced ICU nurses (with 10-20 years of experience) reported an average pay of $80,000 per year, and those later in their careers (with more than 20 years of experience) reported earning an average of $88,000 per year. About 79% of the ICU nurse force is female, while 21% of ICU nurses are male. Most ICU nursing jobs include medical, dental and vision benefits (only 9% of respondents reported receiving no benefits).
Fields Related to PICU Nursing
Because PICU professionals need to handle so many different types of ailments, the staff of a PICU unit is varied. PICU staffing can include many of the following medical professionals, in addition to nurses and doctors. Each of these positions requires specialized training.