How to Become a Pediatric Nurse: 4 Steps

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If you are wondering how to become a pediatric nurse, there are steps you will have to take, including earning your BSN, gaining experience in the field, and eventually earning pediatric nursing certification. With Concordia ABSN, we can help answer what is a pediatric nurse and how to get there.

nurse next to child patient's bedside

Pediatric nurses are at the core of the healthcare system. This specialty can be one of the most challenging nursing careers but also the most rewarding. Many pediatric nurses find it fulfilling to spend their days caring for children and bringing some light into difficult times.

With Concordia University Texas, you can fast-track your path to nursing even with a non-nursing education background. The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track at Concordia Texas enables students to graduate in as few as 16 months and begin working toward the nursing specialty that is right for them.

Before diving into how to become a pediatric nurse, let’s explore the field of pediatric nursing.

What is a Pediatric Nurse?

Pediatric nurses work exclusively with children but do more than just that. These nurses also work with parents and families to help determine the best course of action. This can be a challenging time in the lives of children and their loved ones, requiring high levels of empathy and a kind demeanor.

Children’s bodies also operate differently from those of adults, so pediatric nurses are knowledgeable in child-specific treatment plans, drug dosages, etc. Children are also quite different to work with as patients. While adults can advocate for themselves and understand medical procedures, children often do not understand much of what is happening to them. As such, pediatric nurses work hard to explain things in ways that make sense to young patients, communicate well with parents, and try to help bring some light back into a child’s day when they are struggling or in pain.

Primary Job Responsibilities

Many job responsibilities are like those of nurses in other specialties. On any given day, pediatric nurses can expect to do the following:

  • administer medication
  • start IVs
  • assess patients
  • give immunizations
  • monitor vitals
  • explain diagnoses
pediatric nurse high-fiving child patient

However, these responsibilities will look different because children’s bodies function differently from adults. For example, an IV placement on an adult typically goes smoothly, with the patient holding still until the IV is properly inserted. A child may have an aversion to needles and be afraid, especially if they’ve never had an IV before. A pediatric nurse will explain what an IV is, why they need it, where it will go in their arm, and that it will only pinch for a moment. Another nurse or parent may need to help the child sit still while it is inserted.

Pediatric nurses can work in a variety of clinical settings. Many choose to work in the pediatric ward of a hospital or a pediatric critical care setting. Others elect for a slower-paced nursing setting at a pediatric primary care facility or clinic. A wide variety of places look for excellent pediatric nurses to join their ranks.

Required Education

With the growing need for highly qualified nurses, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the best choice for a degree before pursuing a career as a pediatric nurse. A BSN offers an advantage over someone with an associate degree in nursing (ADN), as a BSN denotes more knowledge and clinical experience and appears more competitive on a nursing job application.

Prospective nurses have options for earning their BSN degree. A traditional BSN takes four years. The first four semesters often consist of general education credits and prerequisites that help students prepare for their nursing practice courses.

Once they are admitted into the nursing program, the last four semesters will include practical nursing classes, simulation labs, and clinical rotations. Accelerated nursing tracks such as Concordia Texas’s ABSN have curriculums that leverage previous college credits toward a BSN so that you can graduate in as few as 16 months rather than four years.

stethoscope on book and laptop

Learn more about earning your nursing degree online with Concordia Texas’s hybrid ABSN track.

Before pursuing a nursing degree to become a pediatric nurse, ask yourself a few questions. These questions may be challenging, but they reflect the realities of a career working with a pediatric patient population.

  • Do I have a temperament that will allow me to work with this population without suffering burnout?
  • Can I deal with witnessing children and families in pain on a daily basis?
  • Am I an effective communicator when it comes to young patients and families?

Pediatric Nurse Certification & Licensure

While nurses don’t need certification to begin working in a pediatric setting, becoming a certified pediatric nurse is recommended. Once you have earned your BSN, you must take the NCLEX-RN® to start working as a registered nurse.

Because pediatrics is a specialized field, you must complete your pediatric licensure exam to become a certified pediatric nurse (CPN). You can earn this certification after graduating with your BSN and gaining experience as a nurse. Before earning their certification, CPNs must work a set number of hours in a pediatric setting.

Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nursing field is expected to grow 6% by 2032, with a projected 177,400 new job openings in the workforce. Pediatric nurses contribute to this growth by providing care for one of the most vulnerable patient groups.

CTX accelerated nursing student standing in lab room

There are many opportunities for pediatric nurses, which makes it unique. Only a few nursing specialties offer such a wide variety of job options. Whether you prefer a fast-paced, emergency-focused work environment or a slow-paced clinic, pediatric nursing has a place for you.

Some field specialties within pediatric nursing include:

  • Pediatric ICU nursing
  • Family care nursing
  • School nursing
  • Palliative pediatric nursing
  • Pediatric oncology nursing

Steps to Becoming a Pediatric Nurse

Now that you understand pediatric nursing requirements and the options available in this specialty, here are the steps you must take to become a CPN.

Step 1: Earn a BSN

The first step in your journey to becoming a pediatric nurse is completing your educational requirements. As mentioned before, a BSN is the best way to meet modern requirements in the field, laying the foundation for the knowledge and nursing skills needed to succeed. Once you choose a program, you begin the admissions process and work toward earning your degree. Make a point to actively pursue experiences in pediatric nursing during your nursing program to ensure it is a good fit.

Step 2: Pass the NCLEX-RN

After graduation, you will take the NCLEX-RN®. Upon passing this exam, you will be licensed and eligible to work as a registered nurse. This exam requires extensive preparation and studying. Be sure to schedule it in advance so that you may follow your study schedule accordingly.

Now that you have earned your BSN and nursing license, you may work as an RN. While most nurses begin in a hospital setting, other workplace options exist. Various medical settings such as clinics or pediatrician’s offices need pediatric nurses on staff. Evaluate what type of nursing you want to do as you apply for jobs.

Explore the role of a registered nurse, including the history of nursing and what a nurse does day-to-day.

purple shirt hands holding clipboard

Step 3: Gain Clinical Experience

Clinical experience is essential before becoming a CPN. According to the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB), to be eligible to take the CPN certification exam, nurses need 1,800 hours of pediatric clinical experience within two years as an RN or a minimum of five years as an RN in pediatric nursing and 3,000 hours in pediatric nursing within the last five years with at least 1000 hours within the past two years. This may seem like a lot, but remember you will still work with pediatric patients in a nursing position during this time.

Step 4: Pass the Certified Pediatric Nursing Exam

The CPN certification exam is the final step in your journey to becoming a certified pediatric nurse. The exam is timed and contains 175 multiple-choice questions. The PNCB offers many study resources and other preparation materials to help nurses prepare to become certified. While this does not replace clinical experience, knowing what to expect and how to study can be helpful.

Achieve Your Goals with Concordia Texas ABSN Track

ABSN student working with sim manikin

For those who dream of becoming a pediatric nurse, it may seem like a long time before you can reach your goals. While this nursing field will take time and hard work, the timeline can be shortened with the help of the Concordia University Texas’s ABSN track.

For students with previous college credits or a previous degree at a cumulative 3.0 GPA, the ABSN track can help leverage those credits to fast-track you toward a career in nursing and help you begin working in pediatrics faster. This is done through a hybrid program involving online classes, on-site skills and simulations labs, and in-person clinicals to ensure that students receive a solid education before graduating.

If you are interested in learning more about how to become a pediatric nurse, contact our admissions team today by calling or filling out our online form. An admissions counselor will reach out and discuss the next steps with you.