what do pediatric nurses do

A Guide to Pediatric Nursing: What You Need to Know to Become a Pediatric Nurse

Pediatric nurses are cornerstone figures in many children’s health development as they work with patients who have not reached adulthood and their families.

From newborns to teenagers, pediatric nurses provide medical care to ensure children of all ages grow into healthy, thriving adults. Pediatric nurses require specialized knowledge about the unique and specific healthcare needs of young patients.

Let’s explore what pediatric nurses do and the steps you can take to become one in our guide on pediatric nursing.

What is a Pediatric Nurse?

Pediatric nurses are Registered Nurses (RNs) or Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) who elect to pursue specialty training in pediatrics. This training and successful licensure allow them to take on roles working with babies, toddlers, tweens, and teens.

There are also pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) who can prescribe medications, perform developmental screening, and administer immunizations. These individuals hold advanced degrees in nursing and pass additional exams.

What Do Pediatric Nurses Do?

While the job duties of pediatric nursing will vary depending on the position, environment, and responsibilities, one thing is certain. Every pediatric nurse will interact and provide continuous care to children as they grow.

These individuals are the ones ensuring a child’s overall health and wellness as well as tending to any medical issues that arise.

Typical duties of pediatric nurses can include:

  • Carrying out physical assessments.
  • Educating and administering vaccines, medications, and treatments.
  • Creating nursing care plans for patients.
  • Performing diagnostic tests and physical evaluations and analyzing their results.
  • Monitoring patients’ conditions, behaviors, and vital signs.
  • Educating patients and their families on how to manage illnesses or injuries.

And because children have different needs and frames of reference from adults, pediatric nurses need more than the nursing skills they learn in nursing programs.

They also benefit from excellent bedside manner, patience, strong communication abilities, and even knowledge of fairy tales, cartoon characters, video games, and the latest pop culture news.

Where Do Pediatric Nurses Work?

Much like the job responsibilities, a pediatric nurse’s place of employment can vary as they have many employment opportunities.

As long as babies or children are involved, pediatric nurses find jobs in hospitals, private pediatrician offices, clinics, government agencies, social service agencies, community groups, and schools.

And with registered nurse employment projected to grow six percent by 2031 with 203,200 openings projected each year, it’s no wonder many students pursue a nursing degree.

How Do You Become a Pediatric Nurse?

Candidates wishing to become a pediatric nurse require education, training, and licensure.

Step 1: Determine and Graduate from a Nursing Program

Individuals can become pediatric nurses by earning an associate or bachelor’s degree from an accredited nursing program.

These programs teach students the knowledge and skills necessary to become an advocate for their patients, families, and communities through critical and creative thinking, ethical decision-making, and evidence-based practice.

Remember that while earning an associate degree is quicker, graduates may find more job opportunities with a bachelor’s degree.

Step 2: Register and Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)

As nursing students near graduation, they must register and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to qualify for RN licensure.

The exam focuses on four knowledge areas of nursing, including:

  1. Health promotion and maintenance
  2. Physiological integrity and delivering proper nursing care
  3. Psychosocial integrity and coping with the stresses of being a nurse
  4. Safe, effective care environments

Step 3: Obtain RN Licensure

Once students pass the exam, they must apply for state licensure. Make sure to apply for licensure in the state you wish to practice, as individual states issue licenses.

Step 4: Gain Experience

Gaining experience in a clinical setting is an essential part of becoming a pediatric nurse. As an RN, you’ll be able to practice your specialty and gain experience caring for children.

RNs gain this valuable experience by doing clinical hours in pediatrics during their degree and volunteering in the community.


Check out Goodwin University’s Nursing SIM Lab, where you could have the chance to gain hands-on experience while becoming a registered nurse!


Step 5: Earn Certification as a Pediatric Nurse

While it is not required, many nurses choose to be certified by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) and the highly recommended Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) certification.

This certification demonstrates knowledge and expertise while showing a commitment to the pediatric field and specialty and mastery over health promotion, health restoration, and illness management.

Additionally, certifications can boost further job growth and leverage when negotiating for a higher salary.

Other Requirements to Become a Pediatric Nurse

In addition to a strong education, practical experience, and additional certifications, pediatric nurses can benefit from the following skills to ensure their success in this in-demand field:

  • Communication: Pediatric nurses must be strong communicators, so their patients and families feel safe and cared for.
  • Time Management: Nurses need to be able to handle their patient care and administrative tasks equally.
  • Problem-Solving: Excellent problem-solving skills help nurses identify problems, start care efficiently and effectively, and improve patient safety.
  • Compassion: Hospitals can be scary, especially for young children. Sympathizing and understanding what a patient is going through can go a long way and help their visit go smoothly.

Start the journey at Goodwin University!

Goodwin University offers comprehensive nursing programs, including associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. There is a nursing program for you whether you are just entering the nursing field or looking to advance your career.

Our students go on to work in hospitals and healthcare centers throughout Connecticut and the country and are identified as exceptionally caring and compassionate nurses.

Start your nursing journey toward a fulfilling and exciting career as a pediatric nurse today. We’re ready when you are!