How Do You Become a Pediatric Nurse?

Pediatric NurseIf you are exploring different nursing specialties to work in a rewarding career providing care to newborns, infants, children, and adolescents under the age of 21, then you may wish to become a pediatric nurse. With their dedication to children’s health, pediatric nurses are responsible for performing physical examinations, measuring vital signs, taking medical samples, ordering diagnostic tests, implementing treatment plans, supplying medications, and educating parents on how to care for their child’s condition. In order to receive the essential training that is needed to play an important role in shaping a child’s life when they are in need, read on for a step-by-step guide for pursuing the special vocation of pediatric nurse, according to the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.

Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing

The first step towards unlocking career opportunities in pediatric nursing is to complete a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from an institution accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education  or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. In addition to providing a well-rounded liberal arts base, bachelor’s degree programs will offer specialized nursing coursework related to nursing ethics, health assessment, patient management, human anatomy, physiology, nursing theories, and pharmacology. Aspiring pediatric nurses are encouraged to enroll in pediatric-related nursing electives for child psychology or child development and complete their clinical experiences within a pediatric care unit.

Obtain a Valid Registered Nursing License

As with any other nursing specialty, all nurses must be properly licensed by their state’s board of nursing to legally practice within clinical settings. Although the specific educational requirements tend to vary from state to state, the majority will require pediatric nurses to submit an online application, participate in a comprehensive criminal background check, provide fingerprints, and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Since there are some states in the United States that have stricter guidelines, you should consult with the board that governs over your state of residence and/or practice. Licensure will demonstrate that pediatric nurses have the skills needed to provide routine medical care to children while working closely under the guidance of pediatricians.

Pursue Pediatric Nursing Certification

Once you have worked at least three months as a registered nurse with a total of 1,800 hours or more of pediatric clinical experience in the past 24 months, then you have the credentials needed to pursue professional certification in pediatric nursing. Through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, you can pursue certification to become a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) to exhibit your knowledge in implementing nursing interventions with young people. In order to receive the certification needed for leadership in evidence-based pediatric care in a variety of clinical settings, you will need to pass a comprehensive exam in the areas of physical/psychosocial assessment, health promotion, illness management, and professional role.

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After taking the steps outlined in this guide, some pediatric nurses may make the decision to advance their career opportunities by furthering their education to the Master of Science in Nursing degree level. Across the nation, there are many accredited graduate nursing degree programs that prepare registered pediatric nurses for becoming a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner or Neonatal Nurse Practitioner. If you follow these steps to become a pediatric nurse, you will have the freedom to choose whether you want to advance your expertise in managing the patient care of infants, children, and adolescents.