You have several options if you are considering a career in nursing and want to work with children. From general pediatrics to specialty care, such as pediatric hematology, there are many choices. One of the first steps in figuring out if pediatric nursing is right for you is to weigh the positive and negatives.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
Pediatric nursing can be very rewarding and present you with interesting challenges. You have the opportunity to not only work with children, but their families as well. If you like working with kids and are comfortable around them, pediatrics may be a good specialty to consider.
On the flip side, it is often difficult to watch any patient suffer and possibly die. Watching a child die, and seeing their parent’s grief, can be heartbreaking. Even the toughest of nurses may find dealing with children’s illnesses too emotionally difficult to cope with.
How Pediatric Nursing Differs from Adult Care
Pediatric care is different from adult medical care in several ways. Certain procedures and medications, which are recommended for adults, may not be advised in children. Children also have different emotional needs depending on their age. For instance, pediatric nurses will need to treat a toddler differently than a teenager when caring for them. Nurses who are interested in pediatrics need to have excellent communication skills, be creative and have a good understanding of child development.
Areas of Pediatric Nursing
If you feel the positives outweigh the negatives and are considering a career in pediatric nursing, you have specialties to consider. The duties of a pediatric nurse may vary depending on the facility or department they work in. Areas of pediatric nursing include the following:
- General Pediatrics: Routine pediatrics involves providing medical care to children with a variety of conditions and illnesses, such as pneumonia, asthma and post-surgical conditions.
- Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU): The children in the intensive care unit require more specialized care and may be in critical condition. Pediatric intensive care nurses will need to have additional training to work with these types of children.
- Pediatric Oncology: Unfortunately, children get cancer too. Pediatric oncology nurses work with children who have been diagnosed with cancer.
- Pediatric Home Care: Similar to adults, children with certain conditions may need nursing care in their home. For instance, kids with chronic conditions, which require them to be on a breathing machine, may need regular nursing care in their home.
Graduating from nursing school and passing the exam to become licensed in your state is the first step to become a pediatric nurse. Some healthcare facilities will hire new graduates and train them in pediatric nursing. Other facilities will require you have a year of medical, surgical nursing experience before being trained in pediatrics. Most often general pediatric nursing experience is required before moving into a specialty area, such as pediatric intensive care. Although it may not be mandatory for employment, some facilities may prefer to hire nurses who have earned a pediatric nursing certification through professional organizations, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.
Pediatric nursing is not for everyone, but if you love kids and are eager for an exciting nursing career it may be right for you.