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Pediatric Nurse Career

How to Become a Pediatric Nurse

When you take your child into the doctor’s office or to the hospital for a procedure, they can be extremely nervous. They may not know how to communicate their wants and needs and may feel overwhelmed and scared. Thank goodness for pediatric nurses. These pediatric nurses are critical members of a care team, trained to work directly with children to help them feel more comfortable during their exam or procedure, as well as work with doctors giving treatment to the child. They monitor the patient, connect with parents, and help perform procedures where applicable.

Learn more about the specific job responsibilities of pediatric nurses and how you can become one with the help of WGU.

Nurse with kids

What Is a Pediatric Nurse?

Pediatric RNs are registered nurses who specialize in the care of children, from infancy to their late teenage years. Pediatric nurses typically work closely with pediatricians and healthcare providers, staying with them and their patients. This is particularly important for children who see a doctor often—having a nurse that they become acquainted with and begin to trust is crucial for their comfort and success. 

Pediatric RNs often have specialized training to work with their specific doctor or provider. They also have specific training with children and understand how they may react differently to injury, illness, medication, and stress. Pediatric nurses are critical members of a healthcare team and ensure that the youngest, most vulnerable patients are cared for.

What Does a Pediatric Nurse Do?

Pediatric nurses may have a number of different responsibilities related to caring for children. Some of the job duties of a nurse focused on pediatrics may include:

  • Recording a child’s height and weight
  • Documenting vital signs for a child
  • Screenings and examinations
  • Delivery of immunizations
  • Ordering medications
  • Administering medications
  • Caring for children, before, during, or after a surgery
  • Caring for chronically or critically ill children
  • Teaching parents how to care for their child or infant
  • Obtaining blood or urine samples
  • Ordering diagnostic testing

The specific duties of nurses with a pediatric specialty will likely vary based on where the nurse is working. If a pediatric nurse is working in a clinic with a pediatrician, they will likely help primary care doctors with well-child visits, giving immunizations, and documenting a child’s growth. Pediatric nursing in a hospital on the oncology floor will likely involve fewer patients and focus specifically on administering chemotherapy and other medications to children. These nurses also work with parents to help ensure their child can be properly cared for and more.

How Do I Become a Pediatric Nurse?

There are important steps to follow in order to become a pediatric nurse. Those steps include:

  • Become a registered nurse. There are associate degree programs, nursing diploma programs, and bachelor’s degree programs that can prepare you for the NCLEX exam and licensure. In these nurse education programs, you’ll learn specific nursing skills, from giving shots to understanding anatomy. These programs will prepare you for the NCLEX examination and give you hands-on clinical hours which are needed for licensure.
  • Pursue higher education. If you’re currently an RN but don’t have a BSN, it may be wise to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing to help boost your résumé and prepare you for nursing specialties. RN to BSN programs are designed to help current RNs earn their degrees while still being able to work full-time. When you earn an RN to BSN from WGU, you’ll benefit from transfer credits, a flexible schedule, and an affordable program. 
  • Gain experience. In order to become a pediatric nurse,= you’ll need to have some experience working in pediatrics. Spend time focusing on working with children to help you prepare for a specialty.
  • Get certified. You’ll need to earn a certificate in pediatric nursing in order to qualify to work full time in pediatrics. The exam required for this certification will help ensure that you understand how to work with children of all ages and help them thrive under your care.

What Degrees are Best for a Pediatric Nurse?

Nursing (Prelicensure) – B.S.

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

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you...

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

  • Locations: offered in FL, IN, TX, MO, and UT only.
  • Tuition and fees: $6,575 per 6-month term.

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 Degree in Health Services Coordination instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry, while also working directly with patients who need help.

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

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

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and...

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 and fees: $3,795 per 6-month term during undergraduate portion, $4,385 per 6-month term during graduate portion, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.

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.

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

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Nursing (RN-to-BSN Online) – B.S.

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

An online BSN degree program for registered...

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

  • Time: 66% of graduates finish within 18 months.
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,795 per 6-month term, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.
  • Transfers: On average, students transfer 81 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 don't currently have an RN and don't qualify for your nursing prelicensure program, consider getting our Bachelor's Degree in Health Services Coordination instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry in a unique way.

Nursing – Leadership and 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...

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are ready for greater responsibility:

  • Time: 82% of grads finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,385 per 6-month term, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.

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 by clicking the button below.

Compare Similar Degrees

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Child getting band aid

What Skills Does a Pediatric Nurse Need?

There are many important skills that nurses with pediatric focus need to have in order to be successful in their work. Some of those skills include:

  • Good communication. Pediatric nurses should be skilled at communicating with both parents and children, accurately, clearly, and simply explaining procedures and diagnoses.
  • Care for patients. Children need extra care, especially in an unfamiliar and even frightening environment like a doctor’s office. Pediatric nurses should show an extra level of care for young patients.
  • Sympathy and empathy. Young patients may be scared to get a check-up or have their shots. A pediatric nurse should be sympathetic to a child’s anxiety and think back to when they were little and had to go to the doctor.
  • Good decision-making skills. A lot of decisions will need to be made—ones that affect young patients. Pediatric nurses should consult with parents while quickly making decisions, particularly if they’re time-sensitive.
  • Ability to cope with stress. A lot goes on in any medical setting, but especially in one that involves young children. Pediatric nurses must be extra skilled at managing stress.
  • Focus under pressure. There can be a lot going on in a children’s hospital or doctor’s office. Pediatric nurses should be able to focus even when there’s commotion or crying around them. 

It’s easy for nurses to burn out and feel overwhelmed with their tasks. This is why it’s crucial for a pediatric RN to work to develop the skills and characteristics that’ll help them be prepared for their work. Working with children can be emotionally taxing, so it’s important for these nurses to be prepared for that while also knowing that working with children can be very rewarding as well.

How Much Does a Pediatric Nurse Make?

$74,000

According to salary.com, the median annual salary for pediatric nurses in 2021 is $74,000 with the top 10% making over $94,000 per year. Salary can vary depending on the state, the type of facility, and education and experience level.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?

9%

The number of open jobs for RNs is expected to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030. Currently, there is a nursing shortage, and hospitals are constantly looking for registered nurses, especially those who have bachelor’s degrees or qualifications in certain specialty areas like pediatrics.

Where Do Pediatric Nurses Work?

Varies

Pediatric nurses can work in many different areas and locations, including schools, private practices, hospitals, emergency rooms, community organizations, clinics, and social service agencies.

Interested in Becoming a Pediatric Nurse?

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

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