Pediatric nursing is a challenging and rewarding career. Nurses commit their skills and knowledge to care for children from infancy to late teen years and their families.
As a former School Nurse and Pediatric Emergency Room (ER) nurse, I can affirm that there are four basic prerequisites for a pediatric nurse:
- You must like – preferably love - children.
- You must have abundant patience for your patients.
- You must have a keen sense of humor and quick wit.
- You must like to teach.
If you passed the above litmus test, the following are some great opportunities available in pediatric nursing. These six prospects are not inclusive, but they can give you a start!
- School Nurse
Many people think of a school nurse as simply providing band-aids and minor first-aid treatment. This is definitely not the case. First of all, medically complex students - who just a few short years ago would not attend traditional schools settings - have been streamlined into public and private schools. The medications and daily medical needs of these students often fall upon the school nurse. With the increased diagnoses of Attention Deficit spectrum disorders, juvenile diabetes, asthma, and allergies in children, school nurses find themselves dealing with daily medication regimens and treatments for a group of children.
Remember that most school nurses are the only medically trained staff on campus and handle all medical emergencies. Working as a school nurse provides a myriad of teaching opportunities with children, parents, and staff. The job is not for the faint at heart, but is personally and professionally rewarding. When I was a school nurse, I also had coached basketball and sponsored a volunteer service club. Although I left the school five years ago, I still hear from some of the students I worked with and coached!
- Pediatric ER Nurse
This rewarding opportunity is fast-paced, challenging, as well as heart breaking at times. You care for children with chronic illnesses, accident victims, abuse victims, mentally ill children and adolescents, and anything else you can think of! This job involves handling rapidly changing medical situations, meticulously and quickly following physician orders and established protocols, and lots of teaching!
- Pediatric Floor Nurse
This job combines the School Nurse with the Pediatric ER Nurse. You will have a great deal of interaction with individual children and his/her family members. You will have more patient teaching opportunities, and building a strong rapport with children and family members is key to helping the children improve and avoid future similar hospital stays.
- Public Health Nursing with Children
This option comes in several forms. A nurse could work within the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Program educating and assisting parents and their children. Another prospect could be working in clinics within a health department caring for ill children, providing physicals exam services, and immunizations to healthy children.
- Working in Adolescent Inpatient Treatment Facilities and/or Juvenile Detention Facilities
These positions are for the nurses with extra patience for their patients! There are a multitude of medical, psychological, and social challenges involved in working with these children and adolescents.
- Home Health Care Working with Homebound Children
This could either be through a State funded program or through a home health agency. Nurses act as case managers or direct care providers for medically fragile children. The case manager positions require working closely with the family, health care providers, and community resources to provide the best overall care to the child. Home health opportunities involve hands on care for children needing 24 hours care.
From the list above, which opportunity in pediatric nursing would you choose?