Pros and Cons of a Career as a Pediatric Registered Nurse
A pediatric registered nurse may have to work variable shifts in a hectic, standing environment. While becoming a pediatric registered nurse can be a solid choice, it's still important to understand what to expect so you can make an informed career decision.
|Pros of Being a Pediatric Registered Nurse|
|Faster than average employment growth (19% from 2012-2022)**|
|Higher than average salary ($69,790 in 2014)**|
|Help teach parents and children about healthy living or preventative medicine**|
|Play an integral role in the medical problem-solving process**|
|Cons of Being a Pediatric Registered Nurse|
|Requires emotional sensitivity to parents and children*|
|Relatively stressful and emotionally investing occupation**|
|Risk to coming in contact with infectious diseases**|
|Unusual hours or on-call for emergencies**|
Sources: *O*NET OnLine, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Essential Career Information
A pediatric nurse is a registered nurse who focuses on treating young patients, such as children or teenagers. These specialized nurses help coordinate patient care and give medical advice to the parents and guardians, as well as the patient, about their care or illness.
While a child or teenager is staying at a hospital or clinic, the pediatric RN checks on patient vitals, administers medicine at appropriate times and records the patient's overall health during their stay. The nurse may also check on equipment to ensure that it is operating correctly.
Job Prospects and Salary
The BLS stated in 2014 that all RNs, including those who worked in pediatrics, earned an average salary of $69,790. In the same year, the wholesale electronic markets/agents and brokers industry offered the highest average salary for these RNs at $84,200. The BLS predicted that employment for all registered nurses would grow by 19% between 2012-2022. Part of this job growth may be due to advances in modern technology.
The BLS states that all RNs need to hold a diploma or degree in nursing, as well as a nursing license. Programs that stress pediatrics are helpful, but you should be prepared to learn other medical specializations, such as cardiovascular nursing or nephrology.
Licensing is done through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), which offers the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Specific eligibility requirements for the NCLEX-RN are set by individual states, but generally include nursing training and a number of clinical hours.
What Do Employers Look for?
Besides proper licensing in the state, pediatric RNs should be well trained in general medicine and treatment. Some jobs may want a RN who has specialized knowledge or experience in cardiovascular, respiratory or gastrointestinal health. This is especially important when treating small children who may experience early childhood illnesses or begin to show signs of medical conditions from their infancy.
Some nursing positions might require you to work in certain conditions, such as providing home care for young patients or working late night and early morning shifts. Some recent job postings as of March 2012 include:
- A Massachusetts pediatric RN is needed to help with adolescent children with respiratory problems. The RN needs to know how to use a tracheotomy for the patients.
- A New Jersey home nursing company needs a pediatric RN to make home-care visits to patients. The position requires helping a specific client who requires home care. The RN should also be certified.
- A New York medical center needs a pediatric RN who is also an expert in gastroenterology. The RN needs to have office experience, especially on the phone, and needs to demonstrate sufficient and clear communication skills with parents on a child's ailment.
How to Beat the Competition
The BLS recommends that one strategy to beat the competition in the job market is to attain certification, such as the Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) or the Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC) in the pediatric nursing specialty credentials.
The RN-BC specialty pediatric nurse certification will require pediatric practice hours and continuing education credits in pediatrics, while the CPN credential also requires practice hours and an examination. Certification is generally voluntary, but it highlights your ability to meet higher professional standards.
Other Careers to Consider
Licensed Practical Nurse
If you want to help patients directly, but do not want the responsibilities of a pediatric RN, you may want to choose a career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). According to the BLS, a LPN works under the direction of a RN and administers the direct care needed for a patient. The academic training to become a LPN is shorter than the training needed to become a RN, requiring about a year of nursing training at a vocational or community college. The average salary for this position was $42,000 in 2011, according to the BLS.
Another career that is similar to an RN is a physician assistant (PA). In this career you would work directly under the supervision of a physician and provide some care to a patient. The major responsibility of PAs is to evaluate patients and prescribe medicine or care. However, the scope of their responsibilities requires them to be licensed under different national regulations, which includes having a master's degree and some previous healthcare experience, as well as passing a national exam.
Physician assistants generally earn more than a registered nurse with BLS data from May 2011 showing a physician assistant earned an average salary around $89,000. Pediatric physician assistants can also directly help and provide medical treatment to a child if a doctor is not present in the medical office.