In pediatrics and other fields, registered nurses earn a healthy median pay of about $64,690 per year and can expect faster-than-average job growth of about 26 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to 2010 data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to enjoying a good economic outlook, many pediatric nurses gain a strong sense of fulfillment simply through the act of helping people. Not just anyone can come to the aid of youngsters and their parents, however; it takes a special combination of training, skills and personal qualities to work as a pediatric nurse.
Much of the day-to-day work of pediatric nurses involves communication, as they relay messages to doctors and patients. Of course, the ability to effectively communicate with children and parents is essential to the job – nurses must gather verbal information from even young children, and clearly instruct parents on the care of their youngsters. Pediatric nurses also benefit from organizational skills, as many administrative duties fall to them.
Pediatric nurses must be able to make basic assessments regarding the health of their patients. This includes the ability to perform physical examinations using inspection methods such as palpation, percussion and auscultation – listening to the internal organs. Trained pediatric nurses also take blood and urine samples and measure vital signs, while those at a more advanced academic level may even help doctors develop treatment plans for children and their families. The latter requires the nurse to apply educational theory to real-world situations.
Special Personal Qualities
While innate personal qualities or talents may be difficult to quantify, they go a long way in the career success of pediatric nurses. A sense of compassion helps nurses relate to their patients while strong emotional stability helps nurses cope with intense realities encountered on the job. Coupled with that stability, plenty of patience helps nurses keep their cool and perform their work efficiently under stress. The latter quality, especially, helps nurses who work in high-stress environments such as acute care departments or pediatric critical care units.
A Strong Educational Core
At the core of a pediatric nurse's skills and personal qualities lies a foundation of intensive education. Pediatric nurses typically graduate with bachelor's or associate degrees in nursing or attain a diploma from an approved nursing program. Throughout years of post-secondary education, budding nurses study topics like pediatrics, surgery, maternity and psychiatry – not to mention logistical topics such as public health and communication – in both classroom and hands-on formats. Some pediatric nurses even attain master's degrees in nursing, and many continue their education well into their professional careers. To become a registered nurse, a pediatric nurse must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination.