Young at Heart: Pediatric Nursing Degrees

Pediatric nurses help children in a variety of settings. A pediatric nursing degree allows nurses to work in the children’s ward of hospitals, pediatric clinics or other healthcare facilities. While working with children can be entertaining, it can also be highly stressful. The patients are often frightened of doctors and nurses and may not cooperate. It can also be very upsetting to see children suffering. However, the rewards of the profession outweigh the negatives for many pediatric nurses.

There are a couple of ways to obtain a pediatric nursing degree. Hospitals or clinics may have their own training requirements for pediatric nurses. Many pediatric nurses begin as Licensed Practicing Nurses, or LPNs, and continue their education to become certified pediatric nurses.

Licensed Practicing Nurse

An LPN degree requires the least amount of time to obtain the certification. Most LPN programs are a yearlong or less. The flip side is that LPNs do not have as many opportunities or liberties that other nurses may have. LPNs may administer certain medications, monitor vitals and perform other routine services under the supervision of a physician or RN. An LPN must return to school to get a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree to work in a healthcare setting.

Associate’s Degree in Nursing

An Associate’s Degree in Nursing, or ADN, is a two-year program that will introduce new students to the nursing field. Once this degree is obtained, students can then progress to class work that will earn them a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree. The benefit of an ADN over a registered nurse degree is that it allows you to earn your degree quickly so that you can go straight into the workforce. You can then continue working as you pursue your next level of certification.

Registered Nurse

A registered nurse (RN) must complete a certified program, which usually takes at least two years. A registered nurse in pediatrics has some flexibility as to what tasks may be done. The RN may work closely with children to determine the cause of illness and heal injuries. A pediatric RN may also focus on reports and healthcare issues that do not involve patients directly. An RN can increase the number of job opportunities available by obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

A Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) degree will provide more opportunities in the workforce. In fact, many facilities now prefer their nurses to have at least this level of education. This degree takes approximately four years to obtain. However, LPNs and RNs can earn the degree through transitional programs that acknowledge previous coursework required for their current certification.

Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner (NP) can be very helpful when working with children. A pediatric NP is a registered nurse that has received a graduate degree with a specialization in pediatrics. This extensive education regarding the care of children allows them to diagnose and treat many illnesses. An NP is able to prescribe most medications and can eliminate the need to wait for a doctor to be available for an appointment.

Obtaining a Nursing Degree in Pediatrics

Before you decide which path to take, carefully consider which aspects of pediatric nursing you want to be a part of. If you want to simply help monitor sick or injured children, an LPN degree may be enough to satisfy you. If you want to have more control without spending a long time in school, look into becoming an RN. If you want to have a dominant role in nursing children back to health, take the steps to become a nurse practitioner. After you have obtained your initial certification, you may have the option of taking your education courses online. This will allow you to work while simultaneously earning your next degree. You can also look into transitional or bridge programs that will prevent you from retaking courses that you had for your initial degree.

A nursing degree in pediatrics opens many doors for career opportunities, and there are several ways to go about getting certified as a pediatric nurse. Allow your inner child to come out and play as you help nurse infants, children and adolescents back to health.