Nursing students interested in providing healthcare to patients under the age of 18 are likely to find that becoming a pediatric nurse aligns well with their career goals. Pediatric nurses not only make a meaningful difference in the lives of children and their families but also are afforded a unique opportunity to provide care, support, and advocacy for young patients.

Individuals interested in a career in pediatric nursing must start by developing the specialized knowledge and skills they’ll need to provide compassionate care to this unique patient population. Completing an accredited nurse training program, such as an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program, can help prospective pediatric nurses launch their careers at healthcare facilities across the U.S. 

Common Daily Duties of Pediatric Nurses

Pediatric nurses specialize in providing care to infants, children, adolescents, and teenagers. In addition to working directly with patients, professionals working in this field collaborate with pediatricians and other healthcare professionals to develop and implement care plans. 

Although the exact duties of a pediatric nurse can vary widely depending on their experience level and the facility they work for, their common daily duties may include the following:

  • Assessing the health status of patients
  • Taking patients’ vital signs, such as their temperature and blood pressure
  • Administering medications and vaccinations as needed
  • Documenting patients’ growth and development milestones, such as crawling, walking, and language development
  • Educating children and their parents about nutrition and childhood development
  • Collaborating with other healthcare providers, such as doctors, specialists, and therapists
  • Providing emergent and immediate care to patients experiencing pediatric emergencies, such as helping stabilize broken bones
  • Providing information and support to children and families facing chronic illnesses (such as asthma and diabetes), disabilities, and other health challenges

Where Pediatric Nurses Work: Common Hours and Shifts

Pediatric nurses work in various healthcare settings, including children’s hospitals, pediatric clinics, and community healthcare centers. Professionals in this field may also provide basic healthcare to students in schools or provide care to children with chronic illnesses or disabilities in home healthcare settings. 

Common hours and shifts for pediatric nurses can vary significantly depending on their place of employment. For example, individuals employed in schools or private practices may work a typical workweek, while pediatric registered nurses (RNs) working at facilities that provide 24-hour care may need to work nights, weekends, holidays, and on call. 

Steps to Become a Pediatric Nurse 

The steps involved in how to become a pediatric nurse include the following:

  • Complete a nursing degree program. The most common paths toward meeting the educational requirements for becoming an RN include completing an ADN or a BSN degree program. Accelerated ADN and BSN programs can provide a path of entry into nursing in as little as 18 to 21 months.
  • Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. Upon completion of a nurse training program, aspiring pediatric nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN exam. This computer-based exam is offered multiple times throughout the year at testing centers across the U.S. It tests candidates on their ability to think critically and apply the knowledge they’ve gained in nursing school.
  • Apply for RN licensure. RN candidates who pass the NCLEX-RN exam must then apply for licensure in their state of practice. Although the process and cost to apply for an RN license varies by state, common steps include completing and submitting an application, paying an application fee, and passing a criminal background check.
  • Gain relevant work experience. Students interested in becoming pediatric nurses can gain work experience via internships and clinical rotations. Licensed RNs can also gain experience by applying for entry-level nursing positions at facilities that provide care to patients under the age of 18.
  • Pursue specialty certifications. While not required, specialty certifications can help RNs interested in specializing in pediatric care advance their careers.. Both the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offer specialty certificates in pediatric nursing.

Pediatric Nurse Job Growth Projections 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of all registered nurses, including pediatric nurses, to grow by 6% between 2022 and 2032, faster than what’s projected for all occupations combined.

Approximately 193,100 RN positions are projected to become available each year, on average, during that same reporting period. Many of these positions will result from the need to replace nurses who transfer to alternate occupations or who exit the workforce, such as to retire or start a family. 

Job growth is expected in various healthcare settings, such as schools, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. Although demand for all nurses will remain robust, applicants with specialty certifications and advanced training may have the strongest job prospects. 

Earn a Nursing Degree and Become a Pediatric Nurse

Becoming a pediatric nurse is a rewarding journey that requires dedication, education, and compassion.  Students interested in learning how to provide compassionate, comprehensive care to this patient population must start by developing the specialized knowledge and skills they’ll need to provide healthcare services to patients from infancy through age 18.

Are you ready to take the next step toward your goal of becoming a pediatric nurse? Discover how earning an ADN or a BSN from the Denver College of Nursing — offered at campuses in Denver, Colorado, and Houston, Texas — can prepare you to pursue your dream. Denver College of Nursing also offers online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs for RNs looking to advance their careers.

Recommended Readings
What Is Nursing School Accreditation?
Obstetrics Nurse: Job Description, Outlook, and Path
Test-Taking Strategies for Nursing Students

American Nurses Credentialing Center
American Traveler, Pediatric Nurse Salary — What Is Pediatric Nursing?
Betterteam, “Pediatric Nurse Job Description”
National Council of State Boards of Nursing, About the NCLEX
Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses