Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

There are few allied health professions as rewarding and challenging as the field of pediatric nursing. Pediatric nurses and pediatric nurse practitioners perform the vital service of preserving the health of the youngsters who will grow up to become the next generation of political leaders, business people, health professionals, artists, scientists, teachers, and parents. Serving as a pediatric nurse or pediatric nurse practitioner requires patience, compassion, and discipline. Treating young patients can be emotionally taxing and even frustrating at times. However, pediatric nurses and pediatric nurse practitioners know that there is no accomplishment greater than that of alleviating a child's pain and providing him or her with guidance and encouragement.

What is the role of a pediatric nurse?

Individuals who work to become pediatric nurses may most often begin their careers as general registered nurses whose training consists of at least four years of nursing school at the bachelor's level. They may provide care to infants, children, and adolescents who are acutely, chronically, and critically ill. Their patients may range in age from newborns to as old as 21 years old, which is generally recognized as the official end of late adolescence from a medical and biological standpoint. They also provide preventative treatments

Generally, pediatric nurses provide assistance and work alongside and under the supervision of pediatricians, who are specially trained to tend to the health care needs of infants and children. Among the routine tasks handled by pediatric nurses are physical assessments of patients, which may include performing external head-to-toe physical examinations; obtaining vital signs such as temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate; and collecting samples of blood, urine, and stool. Other duties of a pediatric nurse include taking patient histories from parents or guardians, administering medications under a physician's orders, administering immunizations, performing routine developmental screenings, educating and counseling patients and their parents; dressing wounds and splinting bones, starting IVs and performing catheterizations, as well as performing child or infant CPR when necessary.

What is the role of a pediatric nurse practitioner?

Pediatric nurse practitioners obtain special education and training beyond what is required to become a pediatric nurse, may also prescribe medications and treatments, order diagnostic tests, and interpret the results of diagnostic and other laboratory tests. In addition to training as a nurse, pediatric nurse practitioners must also earn a master's degree. Unlike pediatric nurses, who work primarily under the supervision and direction of a physician, those who hold pediatric nurse practitioner jobs enjoy broader autonomy in diagnosing and treating illness and injury in their young patients. Both pediatric nurses and pediatric nurse practitioners address the psychological and psychosocial, as well as the physical, aspects of illness and injury when interacting with and treating their patients.

Some pediatric nurses and pediatric nurse practitioners specialize in psychiatry, which entails treating children who suffer from specific mental illnesses. Pediatric nurses and pediatric nurse practitioners may specialize in other practice areas as well, including cardiology, dermatology, oncology, gastroenterology, and emergency medicine. In many cases, they may collaborate or cooperate with physicians, nurses, and other health professionals from other specialty areas in order to coordinate patient care and provide the children they treat with the best possible diagnoses and therapeutic interventions.

What skills are needed to work as a pediatric nurse?

A pediatric nurse may require the sensitivity and social skills required to forge relationships with patients while providing direct care and treatment for illness and injury. Above all, because they routinely work with children, pediatric nurses should enjoy working with and spending time with children of all ages. Pediatric nurses must also be excellent team players, as they must work with one another, as well as with supervising physicians, to ensure that their patients receive the best care possible. In addition to applied medical skills, pediatric nurse education also involves developing excellent communication skills so they are able to explain treatments and diagnostic procedures to their patients and to their patients' parents and guardians.

Because they interact so closely with children, pediatric nurses often function as teachers and must develop a teacher's ability to explain complex concepts in simple, understandable terms. Since pediatric nurses may treat children of different ages, they must keep in mind developmental and cognitive milestones and communicate with each patient in a way that is appropriate for his or her age and background. Pediatric nurses must also have good memories so as to maintain familiarity with the different equipment and procedures that are appropriate to use with children of different age levels and physical sizes.

What additional skills might be needed to work as a pediatric nurse practitioner?

Pediatric nurses must also have the ability to manage stress and work under pressure. Dealing with the competing demands of physicians, patients, and patients' families can be a challenge. A pediatric NP must also have the emotional fortitude to work with children who may be in pain or who are otherwise distressed. It is therefore important that pediatric nurses maintain a healthy perspective on their work.

As with many allied health professions, pediatric nursing requires flexibility, as hours can be long and unpredictable, and unexpected emergencies may arise. Pediatric nurse practitioners, in particular, should have the ability to make decisions autonomously and work independently. They must be good critical thinkers and problem solvers. They should also be able to make swift and thoughtful judgments about patient diagnosis and care. Being flexible and adaptable will help a pediatric NP accommodate patients who will individually present unique challenges and demand a unique course of treatment and method of case management. Given the demands of their work environment, pediatric nurse practitioners must be able to respond quickly to crises and changing circumstances and be able to think and respond on their toes.

Pediatric Nurse Schools

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            5 Program(s) Found
            •  Ranked one of the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
            •  Offers a no-obligation, 3-week trial period where students may determine if the university is right for them before they commit to it.
            •  Strives to be a student’s partner in lifelong learning; committed to helping them achieve their goals.
            •  Serves students of all ages, from first-graders learning to read to professionals seeking postgraduate training.
            •  Provides career-oriented diploma through master’s programs in fields such as healthcare, business, legal and paralegal services, information technology, criminal justice and design.
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            Keiser University Campus , Saint Petersburg
            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 11:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
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            South University , Montgomery
            • Began in 1899 as Draughon’s Practical Business College.
            • Features campuses that are heavily engaged in their respective communities, providing professional service from students and faculty.
            • Offers financial aid, scholarships, and counseling for both active and post-duty military students.
            • Has 15 campuses across the United States, as well as 4 art institutes in North Carolina and Texas.
            • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
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            •        Ranked #4 among the 2015 Best Regional Universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report.

            •        Designated as 2015 Military Friendly School by U.S. News & World Report.

            •        Student to faculty ratio of 12:1, with an average class size of 21.

            •        85% of faculty holds a doctorate or terminal degree in their field.

            •        Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).

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            • Ranked 21st among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Offers online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in health systems administration, international health, and more.
            • Instructs with a blend of interactive online class sessions, social connections between peers and faculty, and real-world clinical experiences.
            • Houses a multimillion-dollar research program that receives funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, The Commonwealth Fund, and more.
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