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Changing Lives One Child at a Time: The Ultimate Guide on How to Become a Pediatric Nurse

Pediatric nurse

Have you always had a passion for working with children and dreamed of making a positive impact on their lives? If so, a career in pediatric nursing might be your calling. 

Becoming a Pediatric Nurse is one of the most fulfilling career paths for aspiring healthcare professionals. You have the opportunity to work and care for young patients and their families, providing compassion and support during some of the most vulnerable moments in their lives. You’ll be making an impact that stays with them forever. It doesn’t get more rewarding than this.

Whether you've always known that you wanted to work with children or are just discovering your passion for this unique field, this guide will provide you with an overview of what it takes to become a pediatric RN, what the work environment is like, and how much you can expect to earn. 

So if you're ready to turn your dream into a fulfilling and rewarding career, read on to learn more about the world of pediatric nursing.

What Is a Pediatric Nurse?

A Pediatric Registered Nurse is a healthcare professional who specializes in caring for infants, children, and adolescents up to 18 years old. They are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat illnesses, injuries, and medical conditions that affect young patients. 

Children may experience unique healthcare needs that differ significantly from those of adults. Their bodies are still developing, and they require specialized care that takes into account their physical, emotional, and developmental needs. That’s where Pediatric Nurses come in. 

They work closely with pediatricians, healthcare teams, and family members to ensure that children receive the best possible care, no matter what their healthcare needs may be.

This special role requires a particular set of skills and knowledge, but the rewards are immense.

What Types of Pediatric Nurses Are There?

types of pediatric nurses

There are several pediatric nurse specialties in addition to general peditric nursing which you could pursue if you wanted to specialize further. Let's take a look at some of the most common types of pediatric nurses: 

Pediatric Oncology Nurse

A Pediatric Oncology Nurse is a specialized type of nurse who provides care to children and adolescents who have been diagnosed with cancer. They work very closely with oncologists, radiation therapists, and other healthcare professionals to develop and implement treatment plans, administer chemotherapy and other medications, monitor patients for side effects and complications, and provide emotional support to both the patient and their family. 


It’s a very sensitive role that requires specialized knowledge and training in pediatric oncology, as well as strong communication and interpersonal skills to effectively care for their young patients and families during what can be a difficult and emotional time.

PICU Nurse

A PICU Nurse works with critically ill children who require intensive medical attention. They work in PICUs - pediatric intensive care units, which are specialized departments within hospitals that are equipped with advanced medical technology and staffed by highly trained healthcare professionals. 

Because they are responsible for managing and monitoring the complex needs of critically ill little patients, PICU RNs are trained to work with a variety of life-saving equipment and provide specialized treatments to stabilize and improve the patient's condition.

Travel Nurse Pediatrics 

Travel pediatric nursing is a unique career choice that allows nurses to combine their passion for pediatric nursing with their love for travel. As a travel Pediatric Nurse, you'll have the opportunity to work in a variety of healthcare settings across the country, from large hospitals in urban areas to small clinics in rural communities. 

This specialty offers the great opportunity to gain experience working in many diverse environments, learn about different healthcare systems, and develop a versatile set of skills that can be applied to various nursing specialties. Additionally, travel nursing offers competitive pay rates, flexible scheduling, and the opportunity to travel to new places and meet new people.

How To Become a Pediatric Nurse?

how to become a pediatric nurse

Many people who aspire to become Pediatric Nurses often have two common questions in mind: What are the steps to become a Pediatric Nurse? and How long does it take to become one? Typically, it takes between two and four years to complete a nursing program and become a registered nurse (RN), which is the minimum requirement for a career in pediatrics. 

In this section,  you’ll find a step-by-step process to guide you through the educational and licensing requirements

Step 1: Complete a nursing program

The first step towards becoming a Pediatric Nurse is to enroll in and complete an accredited nursing program. There are two main types of programs: Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

An ADN program typically takes about two years to complete and focuses on the foundational knowledge and skills needed to become an RN. These programs often offer hands-on clinical experiences and prepare students for the NCLEX-RN exam, which is required to become licensed as an RN.

A BSN program, on the other hand, typically takes four years to complete and offers a more comprehensive education in nursing theory, research, and leadership. In addition to the foundational knowledge and skills, BSN programs go more in-depth in preparing students for the challenges of a nursing job. 

Nightingale College is an excellent choice for aspiring professionals who want a career in pediatric nursing. Our BSN program, which can be completed in as few as 32 months, follows a blended format with online didactic instruction and on-ground supervised field experience. If you’re after a flexible, competency-based nursing education with strong support and real-world experience opportunities, you’ll find Nightingale College ticks all the boxes. 

Start your career as a pediatric nurse with our BSN Program. Send in your application today!

Step 2: Obtain a nursing license

After completing a nursing program, the next step to becoming a Pediatric Nurse is to obtain a nursing license. To do this, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), a standardized test that evaluates your knowledge and competency in nursing practice. 

Passing the exam is a critical step towards becoming a Pediatric Nurse. It ensures that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide safe and effective care to young patients. 

It is specifically designed to assess your ability to apply nursing concepts and theories to patient care situations. So, passing it is an important milestone.

Studying and preparing for the exam can be challenging, but with the right resources and support, you can succeed and move on to the next step in your nursing career. 

Step 3: Gain nursing experience

Congratulations on completing your nursing program and obtaining your license! Now the excitement of being a Pediatric Nurse truly begins!

After becoming licensed as an RN, it's helpful to gain some experience in pediatric nursing by working in a hospital, clinic, or other healthcare facility that specializes in pediatric care. 

Start by fine-tuning your nursing resume, applying for jobs, and showing off your best self in interviews for pediatric nursing positions. Your first year as a nurse may be challenging, but don't fret. Our guide will equip you with the tools and knowledge to tackle any obstacle that comes your way. 

With passion and perseverance, you'll gain the invaluable experience needed to excel in your role as a Peds Nurse. While nursing school serves as an important foundation, through real-life scenarios you develop the skills and knowledge needed to work with young patients.

Plus, it will help you decide whether this specialty is truly right for you. If some hands-on job experience makes your passion only grow stronger, then you’ll know you’ve hit the career jackpot. You can look into advancing your education or pursuing certifications. 

Step 4: For ADN nurses, Consider degree advancement opportunities

While an ADN program is a great option for those who want to become an RN as quickly as possible, a BSN program offers many additional benefits. BSN programs offer a more comprehensive nursing education that helps prepare nurses for a wider range of career opportunities. BSN graduates also have a deeper understanding of healthcare policy, public health, and ethics, which are all increasingly important in today's complex healthcare environment.

Furthermore, many healthcare facilities now prefer or require nurses to have a BSN degree. In fact, some facilities may only hire BSN-prepared nurses for certain positions. This is because BSN-prepared nurses have been shown to have better patient outcomes, such as lower rates of mortality and fewer complications, than nurses with an ADN degree.

ADN nurses can pursue career advancement by enrolling in a fast track RN-to-BSN program, which allows them to earn a BSN degree in less time than a traditional BSN program. Nightingale College’s RN-to-BSN program takes as few as 12 months to complete. It is completely online and career friendly, so if you’ve been looking for the right program to advance your education, this is it. 

Step 5: Obtain certification in pediatric nursing

Obtaining certification in pediatric nursing is not required but can demonstrate your expertise and commitment to the field. There are several organizations that offer pediatric nursing certifications, such as the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

The PNCB offers the following certifications:

  • Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN)
  • Acute Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-AC)
  • Primary Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-PC)
  • Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS)

Meanwhile, the ANCC offers one main certificate for registered nurses in the pediatric specialty: Pediatric Nursing Certification (PED-BC) 

Pricing, eligibility criteria, and other aspects of the certification process may vary depending on the credentialing body and specific certificate you’re applying for, so make sure to carefully research that you meet all the requirements. 

Discover more reasons why getting certified as a Registered Nurse is an excellent idea for you future in the field of nursing.

What Do Pediatric Nurses Do?

what do pediatric nurses do?

Pediatric Nurses have an extensive job description, that’s focused on promoting the health and well-being of young patients by providing comprehensive care and support. In this section, we’re taking a deep dive into the day-to-day of a Pediatric RN. Here are some of the tasks and responsibilities they share:

  • Conducting physical assessments, including vital signs, weight, and height measurements
  • Administering medications, treatments, and therapies as prescribed by healthcare providers
  • Providing emotional and psychological support to children and their families
  • Educating young patients and their families on healthcare and disease prevention practices
  • Collaborating with other members of the healthcare team to develop and implement treatment plans
  • Monitoring patients for signs of improvement or deterioration in their condition
  • Advocating for the needs and rights of young patients and their families
  • Maintaining accurate and detailed medical records of patient care and progress
  • Assisting with medical procedures, such as blood draws, catheterizations, and wound care
  • Collaborating with interdisciplinary healthcare teams to provide comprehensive care to young patients.

What Is the Work Environment Like for Pediatric RNs?

Pediatric RNs work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, pediatricians' offices, and home healthcare agencies

The work environment for pediatric RNs can be fast-paced and emotionally demanding, as they often work with sick or injured children. Pediatric RNs may work varying shifts, including day, night, weekend, and holiday shifts, but there are definitely options for more traditional 9 to 5 positions.  Depending on the healthcare setting, they may work in different areas, such as the emergency department, pediatric ward, or outpatient clinic.

Overall, Peds Nurses work in a collaborative and supportive environment, and have the opportunity to develop close relationships with patients and families over time.

How Much Do Pediatric Nurses Make?

pediatric nurse salaries

Pediatric nurses are in high demand, as there is a growing need for healthcare professionals who specialize in providing care to children. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average for all occupations. 

In terms of salary range, the pediatric nurse pay is competitive among nursing specialties. According to Glassdoor, the average annual wage for Pediatric RNs was $78,239. However, the exact salary for pediatric nurses can vary depending on a variety of factors, including education, experience, location, and healthcare setting.

Pediatric nurses have many opportunities for career advancement, such as becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) or pursuing leadership roles in nursing administration. PNPs are advanced practice nurses who specialize in providing primary and acute care to children. According to Glassdor, on average, Pediatric Nurse Practioners take home salaries of around 146,370 per year.

Discover our study of the pediatric nurse salaries by state across the US, to know what payment to expect in your future career.

Are You Ready to Become a Pediatric Nurse?

Pediatric nursing is a career path that offers a wealth of opportunities to make a meaningful impact on the lives of young patients and their families. Whether you're interested in working in a hospital, clinic, or pediatrician's office, there is a growing demand for healthcare professionals who specialize in providing care to children. With projected job growth, competitive salaries, and opportunities for career advancement, pediatric nursing is a career path that offers both personal and professional fulfillment.

Becoming a pediatric nurse requires hard work and dedication, but the impact you'll have on the lives of your young patients and their families will be immeasurable. If you're ready to take your career to the next level, enroll today in Nightingale College's BSN program or take your skills and knowledge to new heights with our RN-to-BSN

Contact us today to learn more and take the first step toward a fulfilling career in pediatric nursing.

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