How to Become a Pediatric Nurse

How to Become a Pediatric Nurse

To become a pediatric nurse, you first have to become an RN. Once certified, you can seek employment as an RN in the pediatric department of a hospital or the office of a pediatrician or family practice physician.

There will be opportunities to learn more about the specific health issues and developmental needs of children and adolescents through “in-service” training and other opportunities.

1. Earn an Associate Degree (2 Years)

You can become an RN in three years through a nursing diploma program or associate degree program. Many community colleges offer associate degree (ADN) programs. Many new RNs will begin their education with an ADN program, then later advance to enrollment in a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or master’s degree programs.

During your time you will take general education courses along with anatomy, nursing, nutrition, chemistry, and microbiology. An ADN will allow you into entry-level nursing positions.


2. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

A conventional BSN program takes 4 years to complete. A popular movement now finds more and more colleges and universities offering students who already hold a bachelor’s in another field an accelerated route to nursing-program graduation. These accelerated BSN programs take between 12 to 18 months to complete.

If you already have your RN from an associate degree, you can do the RN-to-BSN program in 2 to 3 years, which can open you up to more opportunity and growth.

While in college, you'll want to take classes in early childhood development and volunteer in a child-centered environment, so you will get experience working with children and know what you're getting into.

A typical nursing program course load can look like the following:

Grade Level Example Courses
  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • College Algebra & Statistics
  • Introduction to Kinesiology
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Statistics
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology I
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology II
  • Emergency Medical Response
  • Applied Kinesiology
  • Athletic Care & Prevention
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Nutrition for Athletes
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Lower Body Injury Evaluation
  • Athletic Training Clinical I & II
  • Exercise Testing
  • Upper Body Injury Evaluation
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Health in the US
  • Health Education & Planning
  • Healthcare Management
  • Health Policy
  • Capstone
  • Remaining Requirements & Electives

3. Earn a Master's Degree (2 Years)

It's not necessary to get your master's to start practicing and to start getting on-the-job training, but if you do get your Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) you can specialize to become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) or a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) in Pediatrics.

To gain these certifications, you must pass an exam and meet state requirements. There are programs available for an accelerated master’s degree (MSN), which takes about three years to complete.

More and more RN-to-MSN and BSN-to-Ph.D. programs are being launched as a way to meet the increasing demand for more highly educated nurses in the workforce. Another accelerated program is being offered by an increasing number of four-year institutions.

These programs, called Articulation Agreements, are formed in collaboration with community and junior colleges to enable associate degree nurses or bachelor’s degree nurses to effortlessly transition into BSN and MSN programs.

4. Earn the Required License & Certification

Regardless of the type of entry into practice program you attend, all graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam before they can practice as a Registered Nurse. The exam is administered by each state’s board of nursing.

In order to take the test, you must first apply for your nursing license from your state board. Each state is different, so you must check to see if you meet all of the requirements for your state.

The NCLEX covers the following:

  • Safe, effective care environment: Management care and safety and infection control
  • Psychosocial integrity: Coping and adaptation and psychosocial adaptation
  • Health promotion and maintenance: Growth and development through the life span and prevention and early detection of disease
  • Physiology integrity: Basic care and comfort, pharmacological and parenteral therapies, reduction of risk potential and physiological adaptation