Pediatric nursing

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Pediatric nursing is the medical care of neonates and children up to adolescence, usually in an in-patient hospital or day-clinic. Pediatrics comes from the Greek words 'paedia' (child) and 'iatrike' (physician).[1] 'Paediatrics' is the British/Australian spelling, and 'pediatrics' is the American spelling.


Direct nursing care[edit]

Pediatric nurses are involved in every aspect of a child's and family's growth and development. Nursing functions vary according to regional job structures, individual education and experience, and personal career goals. No matter where pediatric nurses practice, their primary concern is the welfare of the child and family.[2] A pediatric nurse's role includes the administration of procedures and medicines to children according to prescribed nursing care plans. Nurses also continually assess the patient by observing vital signs and developing communication skills with children and family members and with medical teams. Being a support to children and their families is one component of direct nursing care. Awareness of the concerns of children and parents, being present physically at times of stress and implementing strategies to help children and family members cope are all part of the work.[3]

Neonatal Nursing[edit]

Neonatal nurses are nurses who specialize in working with young and vulnerable patients. Neonatal nursing is a branch of healthcare that mainly focuses on providing care and support for newborn babies born prematurely or are suffering from health problems such as birth defects, infections, or heart deformities. Many neonatal nurses work in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) providing highly specialized medical care to at-risk newborns.[4]

A dysmature newborn "is one whose developmental level is poor at birth."[5] These newborns require a special type of care, due to the health issues that arise, such as:

  • Inadequate respiratory function
  • Poor control of body temperature
  • Increased tendency to bleed
  • Poor resistance to infection
  • Poor nutrition
  • Immature kidneys and skin
  • Jaundice.[6]

Neonatal nurses employ a plethora of medical techniques to improve the condition of premature infants, including the use of incubators. Essentially, the incubator "provide[s] proper heat, humidity, oxygen, and mist... and protection from infection."[7] The Isolette is a popular example of an incubator used by hospitals and, furthermore, improvements upon the successful continue to be made. The medical apparatus provides essential medical care for at-risk newborns and, to this day, remains a staple of neonatal care.[8][9]

Pediatric emergency nursing[edit]

Pediatric nurses are expected to have a fast mobility and quick response on stressful situations to contain the life-threatening situations. Key features of pediatric emergency nursing include:[10]

  • Handling multifaceted trauma, injury or illness cases with equal levels of calmness without letting the patients feel the urgency of the situation
  • Stabilizing patients with focused and wholesome care
  • Quickly diagnosing conditions and providing on-spot solutions
  • Administering the right medications to minimize pain
  • Keeping up with the fast-paced work environment by constantly upgrading skills and knowledge
  • Being patient and caring for the families who accompany the little patients and working on easing their mental trauma
  • Most importantly, not giving in to heartbreak and despair when some cases do not see improvement or success. Learning to control emotions and moving on is the key to helping more and more patients in this work environment.[11]

Nursing goals[edit]

  • Normalise the life of the child during hospitalisation in preparation for the family home, school and community.
  • Minimise the impact of the child's unique condition.
  • Foster maximal growth and development.
  • Develop realistic, functional and coordinated home care plans for the children and families.
  • Respect the roles of the families in the care of their children.
  • Prevention of disease and promotion of health of the child.

Training in the United States and Australia[edit]

United States Training

The CPN (certified pediatric nurse) exam validates knowledge and expertise of pediatric nurses beyond basic RN licensure. Eligible RNs may have a diploma, associate's degree, BSN, MSN, or higher nursing degree and must have a minimum of 1800 hours of pediatric nursing experience. Over 20,000 nurses actively hold CPN certification.[12] All pediatric nurses begin their career by becoming registered nurses (RN). Additional training specific to the care of children is then required. Training involves a mix of formal education and clinical experiences. Pediatric nurses can become certified in the field and may choose to further specialize. Students can enroll in an associate or bachelor's degree program in nursing. Some diploma programs offered exclusively through hospitals may also prepare students for the RN exam. Possible undergraduate paths could be to receive:[citation needed]

Australian Training

To become a pediatric nurse you need to first become a Registered nurse. A Registered nurse is a Bachelor of Science (Nursing) at University which is 3–4 years full-time. Once completed you then need to work in a clinical setting for at least 12–18 months. To then become a pediatric nurse you complete a graduate certificate in pediatric nursing.[13]

The pediatric nursing workforce globally[edit]

Southern and eastern Africa Strengthening the pediatric nursing workforce has been recommended as a primary strategy to reduce under-five mortality in African nations.[14] Children make up close to half the population in many African countries, but research suggests that children's nurses often make up less than 1% of the nursing workforce: a workforce survey published by researchers at the University of Cape Town in 2019 found approximately 4 000 qualified children's nurses in South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi and Kenya. The majority (8/10) were in South Africa.[15]

Career overview[edit]

Examining a newborn baby [16]

Pediatric nurses and pediatric nurse practitioners work in a wide range of settings from doctor's offices and community-based settings to hospitals and critical care facilities.[citation needed] Pediatric Nurses may also assist pediatricians or work alongside them whilst providing care to the children. They provide care to children and adolescents in all aspects of their growth and well-being. Pediatric nurses give primary care services such as diagnosing and treating most common childhood illnesses and developmental screenings.[citation needed] Acute care and specialty services are also available for the chronically ill children. Some pediatric nurses and nurse practitioners focus on a specialty area, such as cardiology, dermatology, gastroenterology or oncology.[citation needed]

Pediatric nurse practitioners[edit]

Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNP) play a large role in the lives of young people in both sick and also healthy children. To become a pediatric nurse practitioner you will need to go to school for at least two years after earning a bachelor's degree, and you'll need to apply to your state board of nursing to be recognized as an advanced practice nurse.[17] There is also a separate examination that must be sat and passed in order for a pediatric nurse to practice as a PNP.

Patient education[edit]

Patient education helps to enhance treatment results. Nurses must be inclined to work with children at various levels of understanding because in this field of nursing, patient is especially challenging. Children needs someone to help them adapt to the hospital setting and prepare them for medical treatments and procedures, and as a patient educator, pediatric nurses are responsible for this care. Nurses also coach parents to observe and wait for important signs and responses to therapies, to build and increase the child's comfort, and even to provide advanced care.

Another form of patient education is counseling. Injury-prevention strategies and anticipatory guidance is provided in counseling to boost development. Helping the child or family solve a problem is often the focus in counseling with the responsibility of the advanced practice nurses or other experienced nurses.[3][18]

Patient advocacy[edit]

The expected effective advocate nurse[19] must be aware of the following: child's and the family's needs, the family's resources, and the health care services available in the hospital and the community. The policies and resources of health care agencies must meet the psychosocial needs of children and families, where an advocate nurse must be sure of. The nurses can then reinforce the family and the child to make knowledgeable choices about these services and to achieve to act in the child's best interests.[3]


  1. ^ Datta, Parul (2007). Paediatric Nursing. Jaypee Brothers, Medical Publishers. p. 506. ISBN 9788180619700. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  2. ^ Perry, S., Hockenberry, M., Lowdermilk, D., Wilson, D., Sams, C. (2013). Maternal Child Nursing in Canada. Elsevier Canada. p. 794. ISBN 978-1-926648-28-6.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b c Ball, J.W.; Bindler, R.C. (2003). Pediatric Nursing: caring for children. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Julie Levin Alexander. pp. 4. ISBN 0-13-099405-7.
  4. ^ "Is a Career in Neonatal Nursing Right for You?".
  5. ^ Thompson, Eleanor (1976). Pediatrics for practical nurses (3d ed.). Pennsylvania: Saunders. p. 71. ISBN 0-7216-8842-X.
  6. ^ Thompson, Eleanor (1976). Pediatrics for practical nurses (3d ed.). Pennsylvania: Saunders. p. 73-74. ISBN 0-7216-8842-X.
  7. ^ Thompson, Eleanor (1976). Pediatrics for practical nurses (3d ed.). Pennsylvania: Saunders. p. 74. ISBN 0-7216-8842-X.
  8. ^ Thompson, Eleanor (1976). Pediatrics for practical nurses (3d ed.). Pennsylvania: Saunders. p. 75. ISBN 0-7216-8842-X.
  9. ^ Healthwise Staff. "Isolette (Incubator)". Healthwise.
  10. ^ "Role of pediatric emergency nursing". Retrieved 2021-04-04.
  11. ^ Majudmar, A.D. (2010). "Role of pediatric emergency nursing". Multibriefs.
  12. ^ "Pediatric Nursing Certificate Board". Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  13. ^ "How to Become a Paediatric Nurse". Nursing Courses. Retrieved 2021-04-04.
  14. ^ GHWA task force on scaling up education and training for health workers. Country case study: Malawi’s emergency human resources programme (Report). Geneva: WHO. nd. Available from
  15. ^ North, N., Shung-King, M., & Coetzee, M. (2019). The children’s nursing workforce in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, South Africa and Zambia: generating an initial indication of the extent of the workforce and training activity. Human resources for health, 17(1), 30.
  16. ^ Navy, Official Navy Page from United States of America MC2 John O'Neill Herrera/U S. (2012-04-13), SAN DIEGO (April 13, 2012) Lt. j.g. Linda Duque, a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse at Naval Medical Center San Diego, checks a newborn. More than 1,000 active duty and civilian nurses provide patient care throughout the medical center. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John O'Neill Herrera/Released) 120413-N-LD533-011 Join the conversation, retrieved 2016-10-25
  17. ^ "Pediatric Nursing Careers". Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  18. ^ Fraser, J. (2014). Paediatric Nursing in Australia. Cambridge. ISBN 978-1-107-68500-0.
  19. ^ Sterling, Yvonne M. (2013-05-01). "Pediatric Nurses as Advocates". Journal of Pediatric Nursing. 28 (3): 309–310. doi:10.1016/j.pedn.2013.02.022. ISSN 0882-5963. PMID 23473712.

More reading[edit]

  1. Australian College of Nursing. (2016). Paediatric Nursing. Retrieved from
  2. BBM Live. (2016). Paediatric Nursing Jobs in Brisbane. Retrieved from
  3. (2016). Becoming a Pediatric nurse. Retrieved from
  4. Jolley, Michael. (2003). A Social History of Paediatric Nursing 1920-1970. Being a Thesis for the Degree of PhD in the University of Hull. (1) 1-276. Retrieved from
  5. University of Technology Sydney. (2016). Graduate Certificate in Pediatric Nursing. Retrieved from
  6. Ball, J.W., & Bindler, R.C. (2003). Pediatric nursing: caring for children (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Alexander.
  7. Fraser, J., Waters, D., Forster, E., Brown, N. (2014). Paediatric nursing in Australia: principles for practice. Melbourne, VIC: Cambridge University Press.
  8. Majumdar, A.D. (n.d.). Role of pediatric emergency nursing. Retrieved from
  9. What is neonatal nursing? (n.d.) Retrieved from
  10. Dixon, M., & Crawford, D. (2012). Paediatric Intensive Care Nursing (1). Somerset, GB: Wiley-Blackwell. Retrieved from
  11. Sterling, Y. M. (2013). Pediatric nurses as advocates. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 28(3), 309-310. doi:10.1016/j.pedn.2013.02.022