What is Pediatric Nursing?
Pediatric nursing is a specialty that demands attention to detail, extreme compassion and well honed communication skills, among other things. Providing nursing care for pediatric patients can be both highly rewarding and heartbreaking at the same time, so if you are thinking of going into this nursing specialty, we applaud you already. Read on to learn more about what pediatric nurses do and career information. If you’re ready to find a program, simply click on one of the featured schools in the box below or click on “more schools” if you want to see more options. You can also use the “Find Schools Near You” box to find additional programs that meet your preferences.
There are a myriad of settings for pediatric nurses, from the ER and OR to clinics, schools and community health centers. You can make a significant impact nursing with children at any educational level, but the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner is one of the most integral players in children’s health. To learn more about options for becoming a Pediatric NP, contact the schools below. To get a first hand account of what Pediatric nursing entails, check out our interview with Mary Beth Petraco below.
Listed on this page are all of the nursing schools in the US that offer accredited Pediatric Nursing programs, including the schools featured below.
Interview with a Pediatric NP
Below, BestNursingDegree.com speaks with pediatric nurse practitioner, Mary Beth Petraco, DNP, CPNP. Mary Beth is an expert on flu season and immunizations and works for the Suffolk County Health Department. She is also a member of one of the recommendation panels for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
She talks about her experiences in nursing and what she sees for the future of the field.
Q: What is your current position?
I am the Legislative Issues Chair for the Nurse Practitioner Association of Long Island. I am also the Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases online advice nurse.
Q: What is it like to work in pediatric nursing?
I like pediatrics because children are wonderful human beings – what you see is what you get. I think what is very special about pediatrics is that you are not only caring for the children, but in an indirect way, you’re caring for the entire family. You can’t take care of the child outside of the context of his or her family.
Q: How did you get started in pediatric nursing?
I have an extensive background in public health and over 40 years of experience as a nurse. I have made it my mission to learn about immunizations and vaccines. I’ve been very fortunate to work with a lot of wonderful people with various state health departments, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and other nationally recognized leaders. I’ve also written extensively on vaccines and have a large practice myself.
Q: What is your average day like?
An average day for me is seeing a large number of children and making sure that they are vaccinated. I talk to their moms, dads, or grandparents and give them the tools that they need to care for their children, so their children can grow up to be healthy, productive adults.
Q: What are the challenges you face?
One of the common issues is encountering people who are opposed to immunizations. There’s a lot of stuff on the Internet and in the press about the danger of vaccines – the danger is in the diseases that these vaccines prevent. We have a number of studies, very well-designed studies, which indicate that these vaccines are safe. A lot of what has occurred in the press has frightened some parents about vaccines. As health care providers, we need to take a step back and really listen to what those parents are saying, and make sure they feel good about what they’re doing for their children.
I think the biggest challenge is ensuring that we get vaccines to all children, and all adults, too. We never really thought about vaccinating adults, but we have more and more vaccines for adults now as well.
Q: What are the benefits of pediatric nurse practice?
The biggest reward for nurses in this area is the tremendous feeling of satisfaction that you get from knowing that you’ve kept adults and children healthy. That has always been nursing’s focus. There is a lot of sadness in the world and a lot of sick children and adults. Helping parents provide for their children so that they have a healthy life is very, very gratifying.
Q: What special skills do nurses need in this position?
We need to be able to explain to families how vaccines work. Be empathetic: listen, listen, listen! We need to listen to what the parent is saying to us and listen to the questions. Adults also have many questions. I hear all the time that many of our seniors believe that they can get influenza from the influenza vaccine. I think nurses really need to be well-educated in how to address these issues and allay that anxiety that people feel. People should be comfortable with their immunizations.
Q: In general, are there any specific traits that work well in this career?
Nurses in this field have to be very adept at keeping up with changes that occur. Immunization is such a quickly progressing science. We can get up in the morning and find new vaccines and new criteria for giving them. It’s very important for nurses to be part of listservs. You can get up in the morning and find out what’s new in immunizations and the science behind it. Those nurses who have kept up with the latest regulations and changes are able to educate their nurse and physician colleagues as well as parents and families.
Q: Was there anything that surprised you about nursing?
I’m a very proud Bellevue graduate. We had such superb faculty, and they indicated what was expected of us as nurses and educators clearly. They really emphasized how we nurses are communicators and educators, and that those are our big roles.
Q: What changes have you seen in nursing and what do you see for the future of the field?
I think the most significant changes are in the evolution of nursing education. I’m a very proud diploma graduate with several other degrees on top of that. Nursing education has changed from learning a skill set to learning evidence-based practice. We have so much more science now and so many more nurses who are doing research and getting that research published. We want to use evidence-based practice wherever we possibly can, and I see that as a real progression. I think nurses are really leaders in that area.
We know we don’t have enough doctors. The focus of the physician is to cure illness. Nurses are looking to keep people healthy. Health care is going to be a real team effort between the physician, the nurse, and the nurse practitioner.
Q: What should students know about the education needed for the field?
First of all, I would want them to make sure they seek out a program that is going to steep them in evidence-based practice and how to search quickly on the Internet for the best available evidence.
They should ask questions about what kind of clinical experiences they will be getting. How many instructors or faculty members does the program have in proportion to the number of students? I would be thrilled if a student came to my school and knew that evidence-based practice was the way that nursing and medicine were being practiced today.