How to Become a Pediatric Nurse

Perhaps you have always loved working with kids or have been personally impacted by a child in your life. Whatever the reason, becoming a pediatric nurse can be a lengthy but rewarding process. From deciding if pediatric nursing is right for you to getting certified, check out all the steps that one should take:

Is Working in Pediatrics a Right Choice?

Why do you want to be a pediatric nurse? Working in pediatrics is a preferred choice for many. Some nurses are interested in this population because of the complexity, while others enjoy the personalities of this age group. Regardless of your reasoning behind wanting to become a pediatric nurse, a few things are important to recognize before moving forward forward:

  1. Working in pediatrics can be emotionally difficult. It is easy to build bonds with children and difficult to see their health decline. As a pediatric nurse, you will have to manage the sweet and the bitter moments. Engaging in self-care practices is one way to help.
  2. You will be working with the child’s caregivers constantly.
  3. Being a pediatric nurse can be extremely rewarding.

Gain Experience

There are a number of places aspiring pediatric nurses can work in. This includes schools, clinics, general and specialized hospitals, and community based organizations. When determining what setting is best for you, reflect on what kind of cases you’re intrigued by. For example, working in a hospital might expose you to a variety of cases. However, while working in a school or specialized hospital, you have the opportunity to learn conditions in-depth.

What if you can’t find a job in pediatrics?
Gaining experience in pediatrics can be competitive. Luckily, there are fellowships available that can help you build your experience. Check out these fellowship opportunities:

John Hopkin’s Pediatric RN Residency Program
Northwell Health Pediatric Fellowship
 Pediatric Nurse Residency Program at Children’s National Hospital

Expand Your Knowledge

Taking continuing education courses is an ideal way to expand your knowledge on pediatric nursing. Also, employers will appreciate the work you have put in to learn. There are a variety of pediatric courses online, and therefore it is best to take the ones that make sense to you. This can be topics that you’re interested nor see often. Here are a few courses that might intrigue you:

Pediatric Courses Focusing on Ethics:
Child Abuse
How Nurses Can Prevent Child Maltreatment

Pediatric Courses Focusing on Trauma:
Pediatric Abusive Head Trauma
Young Children in Rehabilitation After Non-Fatal Drowning
Care for the Pediatric Trauma Patient

Other Health Concerns:
Pediatric Tracheostomy and Ventilator Training
Pediatric Respiratory Infections
Common Pediatric Problems in Ambulatory Care 

How to Become a Pediatric Nurse Through Certification:

Being a certified through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board can open up many opportunities. The requirements to become certified are steep and may take you a few years to be eligible.

You are eligible to become certified if you have:

  • 1800 hours of pediatric experience within the last 24 months
  • 5 years of pediatric experience
  • 3,000 hours of pediatric experience in the last 5 years
  • Take and pass the exam
  • Apply for recertification annually

Although the certification process is intensive, there are benefits to being certified. If you don’t pass the exam you may not have to pay. Also, once you’re certified, you’re eligible for free continuing education opportunities. Thinking that you want to get certified? If so, explore the study materials and take a practice test now.

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About the author

Kristie Cabrera

Kristie is an occupational therapist, mental health advocate, and amateur urban farmer. Her experience with taking care of others in the healthcare setting and taking care of the land are both important pieces that make up who she is. As a life-long learner and creative, she hopes to create content that is centered around wellness and healing.

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