Want to Care for People for a Lifetime? Learn Our Quick Tips for Becoming a Pediatric Nurse.
Have you always dreamed of learning how to become a pediatric nurse? Do you enjoy caring for people in your community and helping them reach a healthier and more satisfying life? Are you drawn to problem-solving and analyzing the puzzle pieces that make a person tick and work well in life? Are you compassionate and a quick thinker?
There are many qualities involved in being a great pediatric nurse – among them the ability to be compassionate, to think quickly while on your feet and to understand the intricacies of medicine and the human body. Becoming a pediatric nurse also is a rewarding and stable career in which you have the opportunity to make an excellent salary even at the outset of your career.
If this picture resonates with you, then beginning the journey toward becoming a pediatric nurse may be your next step. Read on to learn our top, quick tips for getting on the track to becoming a pediatric nurse today!
Your Educational Path
The first and perhaps most important thing you’ll need to know about becoming a pediatric nurse is that you will need a high-level of training and a degree. There are three legitimate paths to becoming a nurse currently in the United States. The first is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Getting your bachelor’s in nursing guarantees you the highest pay in the industry because it is a four-year degree. The second path to a nursing degree is pursuing an associate’s degree in nursing. This is a two-year degree that can be completed at a community college. Finally, you can pursue a nursing career by graduating from an approved nursing program with a diploma.
Now, all that being written, all nurses must also become licensed. Each state has different requirements for gaining licensure, which you can learn more about by visiting the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website. Therefore, a path of education is the most basic and most important requirement for becoming a nurse on any level. Working in a pediatric unit may require more training and experience in a pediatric wing of a hospital or in a pediatric doctor’s office.
Finally, you may want to consider advancing your education as a nurse by getting a master’s degree. This will allow you to specialize even further in your study of pediatric medicine and be even more equipped to staff a pediatric unit of a hospital and meet the needs of the sick children under your care.
Finding the Right Pediatric Nurse Track
Once you choose a track for getting your registered nurse degree, you’ll need to weigh the different programs out there to see what kind of pediatric nurse tracks they offer. Not all four-year nursing degree programs offer a pediatric nurse track, but many do.
The greatest benefit you’ll have in choosing a degree program with a pediatric track is that you’ll participate in internships and acquire clinical hours in a pediatric unit. You’ll get hands-on experience putting all the skills you are learning into practice by working with pediatric patients. You’ll be able to test and to improve your bedside manner and you’ll be able to see if you really can envision yourself in the hustle and bustle of a pediatric wing.
Working in a hospital or a pediatric unit is rewarding but a high-pressure situation, and will require long shifts. Many nurses who work in a pediatric unit are going to work several extended shifts over the course of four days, which will include overnight monitoring of a patient and being constantly alert and attentive.
By choosing a nursing degree program with a pediatric nursing track, you’ll get your feet on the ground in a pediatric unit and truly be able to determine if you are a good fit over time. All it takes is a few weeks to months on the ground to put yourself in the situation and to really test your classroom learning.
Consider Your Job Outlook
What we know about the job outlook for registered nurses is very good. In recent years, the market has been flooded with new registered nurses to meet a demand for healthcare services especially among the aging U.S. population.
But even though currently there is not a dire need for registered nurses, there is a need. New nurses are needed to replace an aging nursing population, and that makes working in any nursing field good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects there to be a sustained need for nurses up until 2024, so you can expect to find a good job with a great salary as you set yourself on the track toward becoming a pediatric nurse.
The Salary You Should Expect
The salary you should expect as a nurse in a pediatric unit varies — upon your degree and your place of employment. Typically hospitals, for example, will offer better benefits and higher salaries than private healthcare staffing companies.
As of May 2015, the median annual wage for a nurse who is registered was about $67,000, but you can expect to receive a salary that is slightly higher or lower depending on whether you work at a hospital ($69,510), a home healthcare company ($63,840), a doctor’s office ($60,820) or a residential care facility ($60,370).
There also is the opportunity to work part-time in these settings, which gives you the flexibility to care for children on your schedule, because the typically working schedule of a nurse in a pediatric unit can be over a 24-hour period.
You’ll need to keep this into account as you are weighing what you want and need in your quality of life over time. Some pediatric nurses start out working full-time via 24-hour shifts and graduate on to working part-time in later life.
Conclusion: Ready to Start Your Journey?
In conclusion, if you have the time and the passion for pursuing a registered nurse degree (RN), then you are on your way to learning how to become a pediatric nurse.
This is a career that will sustain you for years to come not only because of the salary outlook and