As a nurse, if you find yourself especially drawn to working with younger patients, perhaps you want to specialize a Master’s in Nursing in pediatrics. Here are a few pointers on walking down that career path once you’ve decided it’s the right path for you.
Getting Started in Pediatrics
Like any other specialized nurse, a pediatric nurse starts out as a general Registered Nurse (RN). According to the Society of Pediatric Nurses, undergraduate nursing degrees do not specialize in pediatrics. Learning the skills you need to work with infants and children will require applying for and engaging in internships where you will work with kids in diverse settings. Since children’s emotional and physical needs can be unique, these experiences are vital for learning the special skills required. After gaining enough experience, you can become a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) after taking and passing an exam.
Going On for an Advanced Master’s Degree
Many nurses who have decided to dedicate their careers to working with children will go on to specialize a Master’s in Pediatric Nursing. There are a couple of advanced degree possibilities. A nurse can become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) or a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) in Pediatrics. The requirements for both involves completing a two year master’s degree, being recognized by your state board as an advanced practice nurse and then passing an exam to become certified nationally.
Related Resource: Average Salary of Nurse With a Master’s Degree
Difference Between a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and a Clinical Nurse Specialist
A Pediatric Nurse Practitioner works directly with children in either a primary care or acute care setting. A primary care pediatric nurse might work in a doctor’s office, a school infirmary or an outpatient clinic. Pediatric Nurse Practitioners are trained to diagnose and treat illnesses and manage patient care. They have an understanding of childhood development that helps them serve children with illnesses ranging from common to chronic. A Pediatric Nurse Practitioner working in acute care will provide similar care, but in a hospital setting, generally working in pediatric emergency rooms or intensive care units.
A Clinical Nurse Specialist might work with patients directly or have a more indirect job as a counselor, consultant or educator helping to ensure better delivery of care to children and their families. Some Clinical Nurse Specialists work in a very specific specialist area of healthcare. Children’s health care has changed much in recent years with the growth of larger hospitals specifically for children, a change that has raised opportunities and challenges in healthcare delivery. So it’s important that pediatric nurses continue to help educate patients and their families about their healthcare options.
Joy in Caring for Children is a Great Place to Start
Though the demands of pediatric nursing can be great, so are the rewards. If you find yourself drawn to working with infants, children and teens, applying for an internship to gain more experience is a great first step. As the president of the Society of Pediatric Nurses once said, there aren’t many jobs that provide as much joy and satisfaction as pediatric nursing. Once you’ve gained some necessary experience, it will be time to look into one of the many excellent graduate programs that can help you to specialize a Master’s in Nursing in Pediatrics.