The joy of seeing patients recover and getting discharged from a medical facility is unmatched, making nursing one of the few emotionally rewarding careers. However, it takes more than just formal education for you to become a good nurse. Besides completing pediatric nursing courses, one needs specific attributes such as empathy, good communication skills, critical-thinking skills and resilience.
While these characteristics are essential for all nurses, they are particularly needful for a pediatric nurse. This is because administering medical care to children may not be the same as caring for adults. Here are the steps you may need to take in your quest to become a pediatric nurse.
1. Understand what becoming a pediatric nurse entails
Having an insight into what your duties will be as a pediatric nurse helps in decision-making. There are several instances where people venture into nursing due to its monetary value. Unfortunately, getting into nursing with this mindset puts you at risk of compassion fatigue – a feeling of lack of empathy towards your patients in the long run.
Pediatric nurses address health problems affecting newborn babies, infants, and adolescents, making this specialty different from the rest. Unlike taking care of adults, you need to employ specific approaches such as the art of distraction when dealing with younger patients. Besides dealing with children, a pediatric nurse educates parents on the importance of nutrition, exercise, and immunization in child development.
2. Obtain your degree as a nurse
Formal education equips you with medical knowledge that you will need in your area of practice. Expect to have some practical sessions to familiarize with a nurse’s working conditions. However, you have many other differences to choose from, depending on the kind of nurse you want to be.
Although most RN posts require a degree, few posts can be earned by associate degrees. Below are the most common options you can choose from with or without a background in the medical field.
- Associate degree in nursing. This requires the least amount of time, with the entire coursework taking two to three years. This program equips learners with solid foundational knowledge, attitude and skills for nursing practice.
- Undergraduate in nursing. A degree in nursing takes you four years of coursework and licensure examination. While nurses with associate degrees can work in nursing positions, those with degrees stand a higher chance for job opportunities and more salaries.
- Accelerated nursing program. This is an option if you have a degree in a different field of study besides nursing. The required time for this program ranged from 12 to 16 months. Most employers seek people with an accelerated program as it shows you can work in a fast-paced environment.
- Master of Science in Nursing. This is a higher-level nursing program that requires you first to have a bachelor’s degree. Since most master’s students are employed, this program is offered part-time and full-time.
3. Pass your NCLEX exam
All healthcare providers are required to have an accredited license to obtain jobs. You can only get licensed after passing your NCLEX examination. Please familiarize yourself with your state’s requirements as they differ from one state to another.
To prevent stressful and overwhelming situations, prepare for your exam earlier and talk to registered nurses who have walked that path before. This may make you less anxious and more comfortable as you approach your exam period.
4. Become an RN and get certified as a pediatric nurse
To become a registered nurse, you need to meet the board of nursing requirements in your state. This is after you have passed the NCLEX-RN. After being certified by the board, you can search for your first job as a registered nurse. However, since you are becoming a pediatric nurse, it is best to seek a healthcare facility or hospital that cares for children. Next, you need to pass the examination administered by the Pediatric Nurse Certification Board (PNCD).
After completing all the steps to become a pediatric nurse, you can enter the workforce. When in search of a job, research the medical facilities in your region that hire pediatric nurses. Through networking, other nurses can also inform you of available job opportunities. It is essential to have all necessary documentation such as a resume, transcripts, cover letter and a list of references.