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Consider Becoming a Pediatric Nurse

January 11th, 2011

Nursing is a broad field that includes many medical specialties and niches. If you are set on entering the nursing field, but don't know in what area you'd like to specialize, consider looking into pediatric nursing. Pediatric nursing deals with the caretaking of children specifically. The profession requires a broad range of skills, but the most important factor is having a way with children—a talent that not everyone possesses. While pediatric doctors have to handle children regularly, it is usually the nurses who are left to do the "dirty" work which children particularly fear, like administering shots. As such, being able to relate to and calm children is an absolute must in pediatric nursing.

So what, precisely, does a pediatric nurse do? A pediatric nurse, also known as a child health nurse, has an array of duties and can work in several different environments. For one, many pediatric nurses focus on holistic treatments for babies, kids, and adolescents alike, as opposed to pediatric doctors, whose emphasis is primarily treating ill-health and relieving symptoms. In other words, pediatric nurses actively work with patients and their families to ensure that the child's health is optimal during critical developmental stages in their lives.

On the other hand, pediatric nurses also may work in intensive care units with children who are chronically or critically ill. In these emergency situations, having a high energy level and the wherewithal to see ill children suffer is imperative. As a pediatric nurse, you may also be required to talk with parents whose children are in dire health situations, so it is likewise essential that you be a skilled communicator and a compassionate comforter.

Some pediatric nurses choose to work within specific pediatric specialties, like dermatology or oncology. Some work at private doctors' practices, while some enjoy the fast-paced environment of a hospital. Pediatric nurses can also be employed in school districts. For those who want the varied options that a career in pediatric nursing opens up, there's virtually no limit to what you can do and where you can go within the medical field.

Although a day in the life of a pediatric nurse can be a harrowing experience, fraught with stress, it is one of the most rewarding nursing positions out there. Much like teaching, child nursing is a noble profession because it makes a substantive contribution to the future. For an in-depth look at the distant places that pediatric nursing can take you, be sure to read a recent New York Times' feature articlewritten by Christian Schuh, a pediatric nurse affiliated with the International Committee of the Red Cross, who currently works at a hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan.