Job Profile: Pediatric Home Care

Pediatric home care is a growing medical service designed to fulfill the special needs of children under age 21 in their own living environment. Registered nurses in pediatric home care are typically staffed by agencies like Maxim Homecare or BAYADA Pediatrics. They’ll spend anywhere from four to 24 hours daily serving in young patients’ homes. Pediatric home care providers work with any children who require consistent medical treatments and monitoring. Home health could be arranged for youth born prematurely, diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, suffering a congenital cardiac anomaly, requiring a feeding tube, and more. Pediatric home care RNs collaborate with the patient’s physician and case manager to ensure highly skilled at-home treatment. It’s their duty to assist parents in protecting the child’s well-being with compassion and dependability.

Salary

On Salary.com, certified compensation professionals analyzed data nationwide to pinpoint the median annual salary of $64,046 for pediatric home care RNs. This is equivalent to a median hourly wage of $31 and biweekly paycheck of $2,463. Pediatric home care offers below-average nursing income compared to the BLS’ mean yearly salary of $71,000. Yet pediatric home care providers earn extensive benefit packages for average total compensation to $90,336 yearly.

Beginning Salary

Newly hired pediatric home care providers won’t earn considerably less than their more experienced peers for starting income around $53,192. However, it’s possible for pediatric home health RNs with years on-the-job to bring home base salaries over $78,609. Those who become case managers could earn up to $87,298 per year. The biggest income jump occurs for RNs who advance into the coveted pediatric home care NP position for a mean wage of $104,740.

Key Responsibilities

Pediatric home care providers are primarily responsible for treating medically fragile children with chronic conditions outside the hospital. When assigned a new patient, the RN will carefully review the child’s medical history and conduct a head-to-toe health assessment. They then organize a Plan of Care (POC) that must be approved by the physician and insurance company. Once their shifts begin, pediatric home care nurses will address the specific health needs of the patient, such as wound care, oxygen monitoring, and tracheostomy suctioning. Another big role is teaching parents or legal guardians the correct techniques to care for their children.

Necessary Skills

Becoming a pediatric home care nurse will require the same skills as a hospital and then some. At-home pediatric RNs need exceptional clinical judgment to make independent patient decisions and act promptly in acute emergencies. Interpersonal skills are essential to develop good rapport with patients and their families as well as ordering physicians. Being a skilled communicator will help nurses advise caregivers on proper care off-shift. Pediatric home care providers need the organizational skills to write detailed records of progress. Working with various young patients with significant ailments requires emotional stability, patience, and flexibility. Pediatric home care nurses should also be reliable in protecting the family’s privacy.

Degree and Education Requirements

Getting your first job in pediatric home care will require some form of post-secondary education. Most agencies prefer hiring registered nurses who’ve finished a hospital-based diploma, two-year associate degree, or four-year bachelor’s degree. Holding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) gives the most in-depth preparation with extensive clinical practicum. Certain colleges will offer RN-to-BSN programs during evenings or online for already experienced nurses. Pediatric home care jobs will advance for those attending graduate school. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) opens doors as nurse practitioner, case manager, and clinical nurse specialist. Claiming a doctorate is wholly optional but could help you achieve executive leadership in home health.

Pros and Cons of the Position

Working with toddlers and teenagers outside of the sterile hospital environment is a dream come true for many RNs, but the job has downsides too. Let’s begin with the positives by highlighting the intrinsic reward of personally touching the life of young patients and helping resolve the stress of worried parents. Pediatric home care providers benefit from greater autonomy is setting their schedules, which is ideal for busy parents themselves. This RN specialty is less fast-paced and allows nurses to form deeper one-on-one connections with patients. Pediatric home care nurses also reap a decent salary with benefits. However, not being based in a medical facility can equal long commutes from home. Pediatric home care nurses are often on-call 24/7 to quickly respond to their patients’ needs. Emotional stress can be heightened when children’s health deteriorates. Some pediatric home care providers also deal with frustrated parents who interfere with or resist the patient’s treatments.

Getting Started

Home health agencies typically expect RNs to have at least two years of pediatric nursing experience before giving them the autonomy to provide at-home services. During your college career, jump on every practicum opportunity to gain hands-on bedside experience with youth, especially in pediatric intensive care units (PICU). At graduation, you’ll have the qualifications to take and pass the six-hour National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN). Aspiring pediatric home care nurses should also complete CPR certification and first aid training. Once you land the RN credential, apply for staff nursing positions within inpatient or outpatient pediatric wards. Gain hands-on experience treating childhood ailments, such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, retinopathy, and Down’s syndrome. You can then expand your resume through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB). Becoming certified will require at least 1,800 clinical hours, a $295 fee, and passing multiple-choice test score.

Future Outlook

The overall employment of registered nurses is expected to rise dramatically by 16 percent through 2024, which would spark around 439,300 positions. Financial pressure on hospitals to discharge patients quickly will particularly boost home health hiring. Pediatric home care is also within reach for more families who have earned health insurance under Obamacare. The Home Health Care Market Outlook shows that this $81.6 billion industry serves nearly 8 million U.S. children and adults. Pediatric home care nurses have high turnover rates due to the job’s emotional demands, so openings are frequent. BSN-prepared nurses signing contracts with home healthcare agencies, disability services, and pediatric residential communities will have great prospects.

Pediatric home care is a unique RN specialty where nurses treat youth with severe medical conditions in their houses. Their daily tasks range from administering medication and monitoring IVs to preparing diet-specific meals and applying dressings. Becoming a pediatric home care provider is a gratifying option for ambitious, independent clinical professionals who wish to assess and serve assigned children in a more comforting environment.

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