Pediatric nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who work specifically with children and adolescents. They work in hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices, nonprofit medical services groups, schools and outpatient facilities, or they provide in-home services.
With the increasing workload of physicians, pediatric nurses are often the key contact person for patients and their parents. Pediatric nurse education requirements prepare them to perform physical exams, diagnose illnesses and injuries and provide child healthcare education to patients' families. Pediatricnurses also help explain procedures, administer and explain medications, take and record the patient's vital signs and keep patient records up to date. Pediatric nurses are also there to provide advice and support to children and their families and operate the medical equipment used in treatment and diagnosis.
Pediatric Nurse Education Requirements
Pediatric nurses need at least an associate degree. An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) typically takes two years to complete, and is usually available at community colleges.
Many pediatric nurses go on to earn a four-year bachelor's degree, which can improve their chances of landing a job, advancing in their career and securing a higher salary. Several universities offer online associate degrees as well as RN-to-BSN programs, which lets RNs with associate degrees obtain their bachelor's degrees online. In order to get into a bachelor's degree program in nursing, students need to take a college-level entrance exam, such as the SAT or ACT. It also helps to have taken basic science classes in high school or community college.
Pediatric nurses who want to become pediatric nurse practitioners will need a master's degree. Pediatric nurse practitioners can work independently of physicians and have the authority to write prescriptions and order lab tests. They are often the patient's primary care provider. Advanced training in pediatrics is also a requirement.
Pediatric nurse education requirements often include classes in nursing, anatomy, psychology, physiology, chemistry, pharmacology and other sciences. All nursing programs include supervised clinical work experience, traditionally in a hospital. Although most pediatric nurse practitioners have a Master's degree, some opt to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice diploma.
All states require pediatric nurses, in addition to earning an associate or bachelor's degree from an accredited nursing program, to pass a national certification exam in order to obtain their license.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many states require that pediatric nurse practitioners have a registered nursing license, earn their degree from an approved graduate-level program and pass a national certification exam. Most states also have continuing education requirements for pediatric nurses and nurse practitioners. In addition, pediatric nurses can advance their careers by obtaining additional credentials and skills through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners, October 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Employment Statistics," October 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Registered Nurses, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm#tab-1
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, May 2013," Registered Nurses, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm