Pediatric nurses are those who specialize in the care of children and adolescents. These types of nurses work in many different health settings, including hospital pediatrics departments, community health centers, and schools. They are familiar with the specific health needs of children and understand the differences in health care of children and of adults.
The standard programs found in most nursing schools include a pediatric rotation where students will spend some classroom time learning about common illnesses and injuries most frequently seen in children. They may then follow a pediatric clinical rotation, spending time working in a pediatrician’s office or hospital ward with children.
Nurses who care for children in the hospital may assist physicians with medical procedures and carry out treatment instructions for patients. They may administer medications and help pediatric patients with daily activities.
Additionally, pediatric nurses spend time teaching parents about the care of their children’s illnesses or injuries and educate parents about ongoing preventive care. Education and counseling of parents comprises a significant portion of time for a pediatric nurse.
Some pediatric nurses work in intensive care units designed especially for children, known as pediatric intensive care units (PICUs). These nurses manage the health of critically ill children and adolescents and may care for children who are on ventilators, who have surgery, or who need many different types of medication. PICU nurses may have additional training and certification beyond nursing school, and many hospitals expect nurses to have at least one year of experience before being hired to work in a PICU.
Many pediatric or general practice doctors’ offices employ pediatric nurses because of the volume of children seen for routine visits, illnesses, and injuries. These nurses may administer immunizations, check patients’ hearing and vision skills, and take patient weights and measurements. They also counsel parents on how to care for their children if a parent calls the office with a question.
Some advanced practice nurses gain a master’s degree in nursing in the field of pediatrics to become pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs). A PNP may work in a hospital or doctor’s office to govern the care of children and adolescents by prescribing medications and treatments and giving orders for patient care to other pediatric nurses. Nurses who specialize in pediatrics typically have an aptitude for working with children and parents and choose this particular field to improve the health and lives of kids.