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HEALTHCARE CAREER GUIDES

Pediatric Nurse Career

OVERVIEW

What is a Pediatric Nurse?


 

Pediatric RNs are registered nurses that specialize in the care of children, from infancy to their late teenage years. Pediatric nurses typically work closely with pediatricians and other healthcare providers, staying in touch with their patients. This is particularly important for children who see a doctor often, as having a friendly, trustworthy nurse is crucial to their comfort.

Pediatric RNs are often trained to work well with their assigned doctor or provider. These RNs are specifically trained to administer to children, understanding how they may react differently to injury, illness, medication, or stress. Pediatric nurses play a unique role in any given healthcare team since they ensure that the youngest, most vulnerable patients are cared for.

RESPONSIBILITIES

What Does a Pediatric Nurse Do?

Pediatric nurses may have a number of different job duties and responsibilities related to children, including the following:

  • Recording patient height and weight
  • Documenting patient vital signs
  • Conducting screenings and other examinations
  • Delivering immunizations
  • Ordering and administering medications
  • Caring for patients before, during, and after surgeries
  • Treating chronically or critically ill patients
  • Instructing parents on proper medical care
  • Obtaining blood or urine samples
  • Ordering diagnostic testing

Other duties of pediatric nurses likely vary based on where the nurse works. If a pediatric nurse works in a clinic with a pediatrician, they usually assist primary care doctors with conducting well-child visits, administering immunizations, and documenting a child’s growth. Pediatric nurses working in a hospital or in an oncology department may focus more on administering chemotherapy and other specialty medications to children. Whatever the environment, pediatric nurses almost always communicate with parents to help ensure that their children are properly cared for.

Where Do Pediatric Nurses Work?

Most pediatric nurses work in hospitals. Others work for clinics, educational services, ambulatory healthcare services, and social service agencies.

 

EDUCATION & BEST DEGREES

How Do I Become a Pediatric Nurse?

To prepare for a career as a pediatric nurse, consider the following steps:

  • Become a registered nurse. A number of associate degree programs, nursing diploma programs, and bachelor’s degree programs can prepare you for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s NCLEX exam and licensure. In these nurse education programs, you’ll learn specific pediatric nurse skills, from understanding human anatomy to giving shots. These programs will help you understand concepts and principles in the NCLEX exam and provide the hands-on clinical hours required for licensure.
  • Pursue higher education. If you’re currently an RN but don’t have a bachelor’s in nursing (BSN), you may want to pursue a bachelor’s degree to help boost your résumé and qualify you for nursing specialties. But what degree is needed to become a pediatric nurse? RN-to-BSN programs are designed to help current RNs earn their degrees while still being able to work full-time. WGU’s RN-to-BSN program offers a generous credit transfer policy, a flexible schedule, and affordable, flat-rate tuition.
  • Gain experience. In order to become a pediatric nurse, you’ll need to gain hands-on experience in pediatrics. Spend time working with children in clinics or other healthcare settings to prepare for a pediatric specialty.
  • Get certified. You’ll need to earn a certificate in pediatric nursing to qualify for full-time pediatric work. The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) can grant certification upon completion of the Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) exam. This exam will help you understand how to successfully treat and work with children of all ages.

Best Degrees for a Pediatric Nurse

Nursing (Prelicensure) – B.S.

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you to be an RN and a...

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you to be an RN and a baccalaureate-prepared nurse:

  • Locations: Due to in-person clinical requirements, students must be full time residents of FL, GA, ID, IN, IA, KS, KY, NE, NV, NM, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, UT to enroll in this program. The coursework in this program is offered online, but there are in-person requirements.
  • Tuition: $6,430 per 6-month term for the first 4 terms of pre-nursing coursework and $8,755 per 6-month term for the remaining 4 terms of clinical nursing coursework.
  • Time: This program has a set pace and an expected completion time of 4 years. Certain coursework may be accelerated to finish faster.
  • WGU offers the prelicensure program in areas where we have partnerships with healthcare employers to provide practice sites and clinical coaches to help teach you and inspire you on your path to becoming a nurse.
  • If you don't live in one of our prelicensure states or don't qualify to apply, consider getting our Bachelor's in Health and Human Services instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry, while also working directly with patients who need help.

Nursing (RN-to-BSN Online) – B.S.

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking the added...

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking the added theoretical depth, employability, and respect that a bachelor's degree brings:

  • Time: 77% of graduates finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition: $4,685 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 23 total courses in this program.
  • Transfers: Students can transfer up to 90 credits.

With over 35,000 BSN alumni, this is one of WGU's most popular online degree programs. View our RN to BSN degree guide. If you are an RN ready to earn your BSN, this program will help you accelerate to earn your degree.

If you don't currently have an RN and don't qualify for your nursing prelicensure program, consider getting our Bachelor's in Health and Human Services instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry in a unique way.

Nursing – Leadership & Management (RN-to-MSN) – M.S.

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and is a substantial leap...

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and is a substantial leap toward becoming a nurse leader.

  • Time: 75% of RN-to-MSN grads finish within 42 months.
  • Tuition: $4,685 per 6-month term during undergraduate portion and $4,795 per 6-month term during graduate portion.
  • Courses: 32 total courses in this program.

Some careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Director of Nursing
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Quality Director
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Project Manager

If you're driven to lead, this online nursing degree will provide you everything needed to make that career a reality. This program is ideal for current RNs who are interested in earning both their BSn and MSN in an accelerated program.

Compare degrees

This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees.

Nursing – Leadership & Management (BSN-to-MSN) – M.S.

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are ready for...

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are ready for additional career opportunities.

  • Time: 68% of grads finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition: $4,795 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 15 total courses in this program.

This program is ideal for current RNs who have a BSN and are ready for the next step in their education.

Sample careers and jobs this degree program will prepare you for:

  • Director of Nursing
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Quality Director
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Project Manager

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of medical and health services managers to grow 17% by 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Compare degrees

This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees.

Nursing Leadership and Management – Post-Master's Certificate

A certificate for registered nurses with a master's degree in nursing who...

A certificate for registered nurses with a master's degree in nursing who are ready for greater responsibility in a leadership and management role.

  • Time: 12 months.
  • Tuition: $4,795 per 6-month term. The cost to sit for the NAHQ Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) exam is included in tuition.
  • Courses: 8 total courses in this program.

Sample careers and jobs this degree program will prepare you for:

  • Director of Nursing
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Quality Director
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Project Manager

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of medical and health services managers to grow 17% by 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

How Much Does a Pediatric Nurse Make?

$81,220

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary in May 2022 for registered nurses was $81,220. The lowest 10% earned less than $61,250 while the highest 10% earned more than $129,400. Pediatric nurses in particular can expect to see similar earnings.

What Is the Job Outlook for a Pediatric Nurse?

6%

The BLS states that employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by 6% from 2022 to 2032, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Around 193,100 openings for RNs are projected each year on average over the decade. These trends are similar for pediatric nurses.

SKILLS

What Skills Does a Pediatric Nurse Need?

Developing a well-rounded skill set can help pediatric nurses thrive on the job. Some of the most useful skills include:

  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Decision-making skills
  • Organization
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Industry knowledge
  • Attention to detail
  • Adaptability and flexibility

 Pediatric nurses should adapt these skills to each environment they work in and each patient they serve.

Our Online University Degree Programs Start on the First of Every Month, All Year Long

No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!

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Interested in Becoming a Pediatric Nurse?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.