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What Does it Take to Be a Pediatric Nurse?  


A pediatric nurse is licensed by the state board of nursing and works in a variety of settings, including clinics, hospitals, and schools. 

The pediatric nurse’s duties typically involve providing care for children from an early age until they are 18 years old. 

A pediatrics nurse must also have an advanced level of knowledge about human development and child growth for that specific time frame to appropriately assess the child’s condition, 

plan appropriate intervention and work with health care providers to evaluate the findings. Pediatric nurses often work in teams with other medical professionals such as physicians or speech-language pathologists.

Pediatric Nursing Duties & Responsibilities

Pediatric nurses are licensed to administer and interpret diagnostic tests, administer treatments and perform health screenings. 

The pediatric nurse must be a people-oriented individual who enjoys working with children. 

Some of the job duties of a pediatric nurse include:

  • Working with families – Working with families with chronically ill children
  • Preparing medication – Helping families and children with chronic illnesses
  • Counseling families – Providing guidance and support for families of children with complex medical conditions
  • Administering medications –  Preparing and giving medications. This could possibly include administering anesthesia depending on your training and licensure
  • Preventative Care – Planning preventative health programs and offering health education, screenings, and immunizations.

The role of a pediatric nurse is very varied and can change depending on the setting and scope of practice. 

For example, a pediatric nurse may provide acute care at a hospital but work with the family to follow up with the child’s medical needs in a clinic setting. 

Pediatric nurses also work with children who are chronically ill or have complex medical needs and may be required to complete additional training for this. 

The Education Required for Becoming A Pediatric Nurse

If you want to become a pediatric nurse, you’ll need to make sure you can pass the licensing exam. 

Typically, you’ll need to complete an associate degree from an accredited school in order to take the exam. There are many qualifications and levels of qualifications available, including:

  • Bachelor’s Degree (many non-nursing degrees can be used as a starting point to get into nursing)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing 
  • Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN)
  • Doctorate degree in nursing practice or DNP

If you have a prior degree, this may be used as part of your prerequisites for becoming a pediatric nurse. However, you will still need to complete specific classes depending on which state you live and work in.

For many pediatric nurses, starting as a more general nurse is a popular option, with many nurses doing programs such as the family nurse practitioner program and moving into a more specialist field at a later date in their career.

Licensure & Certification of Pediatric Nurses

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) recognizes the Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PAC-NP) as a certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNP). 

While there is no national licensing requirement for medical professionals, all states require at least certification from the ANCC in order to practice nursing in the state of practice.

It is important to note that there are certain specialty fields within pediatrics where additional training and certification may be required, such as neonatal nurseries, special needs, child life specialists, or hospice.

Pediatric Nurse Skills and Knowledge

Pediatric nurses are required to have basic medical skills. 

In addition to having a solid grasp of medical knowledge, pediatric nurses also need to know how to communicate with families and be able to educate them about the condition of the child. 

To be a great pediatric nurse, you’ll need:

Communication Skills

Communication skills are vital as a pediatric nurse because you will be providing both technical care for your patient and emotional support for the family. 

Good communication is also important when working with other medical professionals in collaborative teams.

As part of your training, you’ll need to improve your communication skills, and this will be an ongoing part of your continuing education.


Knowledge should first start with your understanding of human development and growth. From there, you should be able to apply your knowledge of child development to your assessment of the child’s condition. 

Being able to interpret a complete physical exam will also require a good understanding of anatomy, nutrition, and psychology.

In addition to the specific knowledge you’ll need for the care and treatment of your patients, it is important that you keep up-to-date with current research and standards for pediatric nursing care so you can deliver high-quality care.

Critical Thinking Skills

As a pediatric nurse, you must be ready to think critically in order to provide the best care for any given situation. 

Critical thinking is required so you can make decisions that are best for the child and family based on your knowledge and training.

You will also need to be able to think critically in order to provide precise care for your patients. For example, you might need to give careful instructions for a specific medical procedure or provide children with explicit instructions for an activity, so they can perform it safely.

Clinical Judgment

Clinical judgment is another important skill that pediatric nurses must have. 

As part of critical thinking, clinical judgment allows you to weigh the evidence from your assessment of the child and make a decision about how best to proceed with care based on that evidence.

Pediatric nurses must be skilled and knowledgeable in order to make clinical decisions that are in the best interest of the patient and family. 

Palliative Care Skills and Knowledge

Palliative care is a new field of nursing where pediatric nurses will work with families to provide comfort, pain relief, and emotional support for children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses. 

This requires extensive training, including special education on how to administer medications, use pain-relieving techniques like massage, and even how to access those complementary therapies.

Finding A Job As A Pediatric Nurse

A pediatric nurse is a challenging career to pursue because of the higher level of education and training required. 

One of the biggest hurdles that people face when trying to move into positions as pediatric nurses is finding jobs. 

Although there are not as many pediatric positions as there were in the past, the number of jobs for nurses overall has been rising significantly.

The best way to find out more about what’s happening in your field is by reading current research studies and following nursing trends on social media sites like Facebook groups or blogs. This will give you a better idea of what your peers are doing, which will help you determine the best path for your career.

Another option would be to look for jobs that have openings and then apply and ask questions about the job posting. 

What Does The Future of Nursing Look Like?

Medicine is changing rapidly, which makes the demand for nurses high.

Pediatric nurses are in high demand because of the growing elderly population and the increasing number of pediatric patients who need specialized care. 

Although there are many many disciplines within nursing, there is a need for more specialists that can provide quality care to patients in hospitals and other healthcare settings.

The pediatric nurse may be a great specialty to pursue as there are fewer specialties in the field, which means it will be easier for you to find a job.

Becoming an Advanced Pediatric Nurse – Scope of Practice

While the average person may not understand the scope of practice of a pediatric nurse, they may understand certain benefits. 

For example, as a pediatric nurse, you’ll be able to work with people of all ages and develop strong relationships with families. 

You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in various research opportunities and contribute to advances in medicine. 

Pediatric nurses must balance providing care for the child with the family’s needs. This requires special training and skills that are best learned through specialized education programs.

How To Take Your Career Further

Reviewing these job posts will also help you find out which medical specialties are hiring and which positions have the best pay and benefits. 

Doctors and other healthcare providers can use these insights to improve the way they make hiring decisions.

When deciding on your career, you may want to choose a specialty that has relatively high demand but low competition in your area. That way, you’ll have more options and opportunities available to you.


Today, the field of pediatric nursing is experiencing a nursing shortage and increasing demand. 

As more people choose to start a career as pediatric nurses, the market for these in-demand positions will start to respond positively in the near future. 

The best way to prepare for this growing trend is by getting your education at an accredited program from a program that has specialized training in pediatric nursing. 

In this way, you’re more likely to get a job as a pediatric nurse and benefit from the higher pay and career advancement opportunities that come with it.

If you are thinking of joining the nursing career or training further to become a specialist pediatric nurse, it would be worth your while to talk to a professional who can give you insider information on the job market, career progression, and useful tips.

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