Travel Nursing September 29, 2022

By Cassandra Damascus

How to Become a Pediatric Nurse

Pediatric nurses are special people – they are empathetic, patient, and noble. Their high emotional intelligence allows them to manage their personal feelings while addressing children’s medical needs in a caring way. Nurses who specialize in pediatrics are in high demand, which is why pediatric nurses turn to travel nursing to help hospitals with their staffing shortages and be compensated well.

What is a Pediatric Nurse?

Pediatric nurses are nurses who specialize in the pediatrics unit. Their patients are children and young adolescents. They not only help children heal, but they communicate with and support the patient’s families. (University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences) There are specialties within pediatric nursing that include oncology, pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), and rehabilitation. Pediatric nurses work in community hospitals, children’s hospitals, outpatient care facilities, home healthcare, school settings, and more.

What are the Responsibilities of a Pediatric Nurse?

We spoke with AMN Healthcare clinical nurse educator, Caroline W., MSN, RN, about the responsibilities, experience, and career of pediatric nurses.

Caroline shared, “Pediatric nurses take care of a population of patients aged newborn to 18 years of age. This includes providing nursing care for newborns, infants, children, and adolescents. Nursing care includes completing nursing assessments, identifying changes in patient symptoms, and intervening in emergency situations. Many differences exist in providing care for a child versus an adult and this includes communication, pain assessments, vital sign monitoring, and administration of medications. Many facilities also adopt a family-centered care model, and this allows the family to be involved in the care plan and discharge teaching.”

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What is it Like to Work as a Pediatric Nurse?

“Working as a pediatric nurse can be rewarding and challenging. Many pediatric acute care hospital units are decorated in bright fun colors welcoming them and their families to the unit. They have a designated play area and treatment rooms. Equipment is often adapted for children, for example oxygen masks can be in the shape of animals and pediatric nurses are encouraged to wear fun-colored scrubs. Pediatric nurses use theoretical frameworks to assist in identifying the psychosocial and developmental needs of the child and adapt communication to build trust and relationships.”

“For example, if a child is getting an intramuscular injection and asks the nurse if it will hurt, the nurse will respond truthfully, ‘Yes, it can hurt like a bee sting’. Another example would be to allow toddlers to touch equipment such as stethoscopes or blood pressure cuffs and ‘play’ with them before the nurses use them on the child to decrease anxiety. Other practice areas can be in a pediatric office, a pediatric clinic, pediatric rehabs, pediatric ER, or pediatric surgical areas.”

Pediatric Nurse Salary

“Nurses now have the option to move into a pediatric nursing career out of school after graduation. A pediatric nurse salary is consistent with current salary of a new graduate nurse and can vary by state and region.” AMN Healthcare, pediatric travel nurses can earn anywhere from $2,074 to $3,437 per week, and sometimes more based on demand. Currently, the states with the highest demand are California, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Delaware.

Steps for Becoming a Pediatric Nurse

Specializing in pediatric nursing requires higher education, licensure, and experience. Pediatric experience or family-focused care is preferred. Nurses need to attend and graduate nursing school (become an RN) and pass the NCLEX state board exam. It takes generally five to eight years to become a pediatric nurse. (IPN)

Step 1. Become a Registered Nurse (RN)

The first step is to apply for nursing school and complete the RN curriculum by earning a nursing diploma, associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (bachelor preferred). The second step is to pass the national NCLEX exam to become an RN, then apply for RN jobs in pediatric settings.

Step 2. Gain Experience as RN

“A new RN graduate can be hired directly into a pediatric nurse setting and experienced nurses who want to transfer to a pediatric nurse setting can also be considered,” said Caroline. Typically after about two years, the nurse can consider getting board certified in pediatrics. (IPN)

Step 3. Get Certified as Pediatric Nurse

“There is a Pediatric RN Certification that can be taken by pediatric nurses after a couple of years of experience to demonstrate competency in the field. The certification is an option and not mandatory.” Note, travel nurses who have additional certifications such as the Pediatric RN Certification can earn higher wages for being more skilled.

Applying for a Pediatric Nursing Job

Applying for pediatric nursing jobs is easy with AMN Healthcare. Nurses interested in traveling can fill out a quick-start application to connect to a recruiter, search jobs online, or download the AMN Passport app to apply for jobs.

AMN Healthcare offers pediatric travel nurses and their families premium health insurance, life insurance, vision insurance, and disability insurance. Additionally, AMN provides housing or a housing stipend and can help with relocation. There is also 24/7 clinical support, providing around-the-clock medical expertise to the pediatric travel nurses.

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