For many people the person on the frontline of their medical care that they confer the most trust upon is not the doctor or the front staff, but it is the registered nurse. For families with children, the pediatric registered nurse is like a second mom (or dad) who dispenses wisdom and great medical care. Although pediatric nurses often work in close consultation with a doctor, they often do their work alone. Pediatric nurses are essential because they provide acute care and can take up the slack where a doctor might be too busy with other patients. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010 there were 2,737, 400 registered nurses in the United States, and 18% of those were pediatric nurses.
Someone looking to become a pediatric nurse must have the proper training and educational requirements, which often represents a fairly long and extensive investment of time on the individuals part. States have their own rules and regulations for licensing that are designated in the Nurse Practitioner Act. Accredited pediatric nurses like Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioners must go pass a national board exam in addition to the requirements of the state where they practice. Nurses go through almost as much training as doctors in terms of their education, tests, and residencies, so anyone regarding a nurse as somehow less than a doctor is sorely mistaken. They actually do many of the same duties as doctors, but their primary role in a clinical health setting is coordinating treatment between the doctor and the patient and serving as a reality role model. Thus, they interact with patients more extensively than doctors, and consequently, often have a better rapport and relationship with those patients, especially in the case of the pediatric nurse.
What are some of the duties of the pediatric nurse? First and foremost they are responsible for performing physical exams to determine the initial health and vitals of patients. They will provide answers to questions about various health problems, and they can perform a variety of tests and procedures in the context of health related issues. Pediatric nurses are especially trained to provide treatment for many common childhood illnesses, and they can also assist with the management of chronic illnesses. Since they are regularly in consultation with doctors, they can change the plan of care for their patients if there is a need. The pediatric nurse also serves an educational role by educating families about the effects of various illnesses on a child’s growth and development. Pediatric nurses also give educational support by teaching children about self-care and healthy choices in their lifestyles. Like doctors, pediatric nurses prescribe most medications for their patients, and they can consult doctors on an as needed basis depending on the families and their conditions.
Since doctors provide much more specialized care, there is a great need for nurses in the United States. The job outlook is continuing to grow as the current generation of nurse’s ages out of the system and the health care system in this country continues to expand. The need for nurses is particularly acute since they provide so many of the essential services that are wasteful for doctors alone to be responsible for. Pediatric nurse training emphasizes the prevention of disease, the reduction of certain health risks, and education for their young patients.
Sarah Ross writes articles for education sites and suggests looking up information about the online nurse practitioner programs they offer.