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Pediatric nursing

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Pediatric nursing is part of the nursing profession, specifically revolving around the care of neonates and children up to adolescence. The word, pediatrics, comes from the Greek words 'paedia' (child) and 'iatrike' (physician).[1] 'Paediatrics' is the British/Australian spelling, while 'pediatrics' is the American spelling.


Direct nursing[edit]

Nursing functions vary regionally, by individual education, experience, and individual career goals. These functions include the administration of procedures and medicines according to prescribed nursing care plans. Nurses observe vital signs and develop communication skills with children and family members, as well as with other medical personnel. Awareness of the concerns of children and parents, physical presence at times of stress, and helping children and family members cope are common functions of direct nursing care[2]

Neonatal nursing[edit]

Neonatal nurses specialize in working with the youngest patients(infants). Neonatal nursing focuses on providing care and support for newborn babies delivered prematurely or who 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 specialized medical care to at-risk newborns.[3]

A dysmature newborn "is one whose developmental level is poor at birth.[4] These newborns require a special type of care, due to their health issues, such as:[5]

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

Neonatal nurses employ medical techniques, including the use of incubators. Essentially, the incubator "provide[s] proper heat, humidity, oxygen, and mist... and protection from infection."[6] The medical apparatus provides essential medical care for at-risk newborns.[7][8]

Emergency nursing[edit]

Pediatric nurses are expected to provide a quick response to stressful circumstances in life-threatening situations. Key features of pediatric emergency nursing include:[9]

  • Handling multifaceted trauma, injury or illness cases without letting the patients succumb to the urgency of the situation
  • Stabilizing patients
  • Quickly diagnosing conditions and providing on-spot solutions
  • Administering appropriate medications to address pain
  • Upgrading skills and knowledge
  • Remaining patient and caring for the traumatized families accompanying the patient
  • Maintaining equanimity around patients who do not improve.[10]

Pediatric nurse practitioners[edit]

Pediatric nurse practitioner must attend school for at least two years after earning a bachelor's degree, pass an examination, and apply to their state board of nursing.[11]

Psychiatric Nursing[edit]

Some pediatric nurses can choose to return to school for their masters in psychiatric nursing. Pediatric psychiatric nurses are responsible for caring for children and adolescents with psychiatric problems.  


  • Normalize the life of the child during hospitalization.
  • Minimize the impact of the child's unique condition.
  • Foster growth and development.
  • Develop realistic, functional and coordinated home care plans.
  • Respect the roles of the families.
  • Prevent disease and promote health.



A registered nursing license is required to practice. A registered nurse requires a Bachelor of Science (Nursing), a 3–4 years full-time training. Once completed 12–18 months in a clinical setting is required, followed by completing a graduate certificate in pediatric nursing.[12]

United States[edit]

The CPN (certified pediatric nurse) exam validates knowledge and expertise beyond the prerequisite Registered Nurse (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 30,000 nurses actively held CPN certification as of April 15, 2021.[13]

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. Some diploma programs offered exclusively through hospitals may also prepare students for the RN exam.

Global development[edit]

Southern and eastern Africa[edit]

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 2019 workforce survey 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 work in settings including doctor's offices and community-based settings to hospitals and critical care facilities.[citation needed] Pediatric nurses may assist pediatricians or work alongside them. Pediatric nurses offer primary care services such as diagnosing and treating common childhood illnesses and conducting developmental screenings.[citation needed] Acute care and specialty services are also available for the chronically ill. Some pediatric nurses and nurse practitioners specialize in areas such as cardiology, dermatology, gastroenterology or oncology.[citation needed] Pediatric nurses are responsible for helping patients adapt to a hospital setting and prepare them for medical treatments and procedures. Nurses also coach parents to observe and wait for important signs and responses to therapies, to increase the child's comfort, and even to provide ongoing care.[citation needed]


Pediatric nursing specialties require specialized education. Nurses must first become a registered nurse (RN), gain experience in a pediatric health care facility and then pass the Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) exam.[17] If a CPN wants to become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, they must return to school to receive their masters. 45% of undergraduate pediatric nursing students reported a lack of student direct care clinical learning opportunities with children [18]


Injury-prevention strategies and anticipatory guidance are provided via counseling. Helping the child or family solve a problem is often a focus, usually provided by advanced practice nurses or other experienced nurses.[2][19]


The effective advocate nurse must be aware of the child's and the family's needs, the family's resources, and available health care services.[20] Nurses help reinforce families to help them make knowledgeable choices about medical services and to act in the child's best interests.[2]


  1. ^ Datta, Parul (2007). Paediatric Nursing. Jaypee Brothers, Medical Publishers. p. 506. ISBN 9788180619700. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Ball, Jane W.; Bindler, Ruth C. (2003). Pediatric Nursing: caring for children (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. p. 4. ISBN 0-13-099405-7.
  3. ^ "Is a Career in Neonatal Nursing Right for You?".
  4. ^ Thompson 1976, p. 71.
  5. ^ Thompson 1976, p. 73-74.
  6. ^ Thompson 1976, p. 74.
  7. ^ Thompson 1976, p. 75.
  8. ^ Healthwise Staff. "Isolette (Incubator)". Healthwise.
  9. ^ "Role of pediatric emergency nursing". www.multibriefs.com. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  10. ^ Majudmar, A.D. (2010). "Role of pediatric emergency nursing". Multibriefs.
  11. ^ "Pediatric Nursing Careers". www.pncb.org. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  12. ^ "How to Become a Paediatric Nurse". Nursing Courses. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  13. ^ "Pediatric Nursing Certificate Board". Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  14. ^ "GHWA task force on scaling up education and training for health workers. Country case study: Malawi's emergency human resources programme" (PDF). Geneva: WHO.
  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. doi:10.1186/s12960-019-0366-4. PMC 6505296. PMID 31064414.
  16. ^ Duque, Linda (13 April 2012), Photo, retrieved 25 October 2016
  17. ^ "How to Become a Pediatric Nurse". Herzing University. 10 October 2019. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  18. ^ "Resources". IPN. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  19. ^ Fraser, J. (2014). Paediatric Nursing in Australia. Cambridge. ISBN 978-1-107-68500-0.
  20. ^ Sterling, Yvonne M. (1 May 2013). "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.

Further reading[edit]