Pediatric nurses provide preventative and acute care to children and adolescents. They work with pediatric nurse practitioners and pediatricians to diagnose illnesses and injuries and provide treatments. Pediatric nurses serve as the right-hand to physicians, assisting in general examinations, gathering patient information and answering patients’ or parents’ questions. They may give immunizations, perform routine developmental screenings and give school physicals to ensure that patients meet all institutional health requirements and are developing normally. Pediatric nurses are concerned with the physical and mental well-being of children and teenagers. Some pediatric nurses may be involved in health education and community efforts to encourage healthy lifestyle choices among today’s youth.
Pediatric nurses must meet the basic requirements of a licensed registered nurse (RN) and more. This includes earning an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing or completing a nursing diploma program, as well as passing the NCLEX-RN licensing examination. In addition to the basic RN requirements, prospective pediatric nurses must have extensive experience in pediatrics with a minimum total of 1,800 hours as an RN in a pediatric specialty over a 24-month period. According to the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, nurses must have documented experience before they can take the Certified Pediatric Nurse Exam. With this certification, pediatric nurses may experience increased salaries, better career mobility and industry recognition.
According to PayScale, certified pediatric nurses (CPN) made median hourly rates of $24.69 to $38.96 in 2009. The annual salary of pediatric nurses varies by location, experience and education level. With certification and continued education, pediatric nurses have many opportunities to advance their careers and increase their salaries. This field provides much room for growth and specialization, such as oncology, immunology and other areas that afflict children.