All pediatric nurses begin their career by becoming registered nurses (RN). Students can enroll in an undergraduate degree program in nursing to prepare for the RN licensing exam. Training in these programs involves a mix of formal education and clinical experiences. From there, additional qualifications specific to the care of children are required. Pediatric nurses can become certified in the field and may choose to further specialize in a particular area.
Prerequisites for admission to nursing schools include a high school diploma or GED equivalent and a drug test. Training takes two years for associate degrees and four years for bachelor's degrees. Some schools offer online programs.
Associate of Science in Nursing
Students in Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) programs tackle a variety of nursing topics, including human disease processes, maternal nursing and human anatomy. Some general education classes, such as psychology and oral communication, may also be required. Common course topics include:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Intro to health care concepts
- Professional nursing concepts
- General psychology
- Lifespan growth and development
- Professional nursing competencies
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program offers students a comprehensive nursing education and prepares them to take the RN certifying exam. However, many BSN students are working nurses who already hold their RN certification. BSN classes are available on a number of specialized topics, including pediatric nursing and ethics in professional nursing. Some required courses might include the following:
- Intro to psychology
- Intro to nutrition
- Adult health competencies
- Concepts and clinical competencies
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses make a median annual income of $67,490 as of May 2015. Employment opportunities for nurses are expected to grow 16% from 2014 to 2024. This job growth rate is much faster than average compared to all other occupations.
Continuing Education Information
All states require nurses to be officially licensed, which involves passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Some states may have additional licensing requirements. Pediatric nurses must also pass the Certified Pediatric Nurse Exam in order to become certified pediatric nurses (CPN). Registered nurses must have at least 1,800 hours of pediatric clinical experience from the past two years in order to be eligible for the CPN exam.
After becoming licensed and working in the field, pediatric nurses can advance their career by becoming pediatric nurse practitioners (PNP). They must complete a master's degree in nursing and become licensed as an advanced practice nurse (APN) by the state in which they work. Pediatric nurses who would like to pursue a teaching or research career may apply to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in nursing.
A variety of workshops are also available to professional pediatric nurses. Workshops and seminars may be available at local colleges or health organizations and address a wide range of topics, such as alternative therapies in pediatric practice and genetic research in pediatric nursing. Technological advances in the field may also be discussed.
Aspiring pediatric nurses begin their education and training through an associate or bachelor's degree program. After obtaining state licensure, they can practice their profession as pediatric nurses in various clinical settings.