Pediatric Nursing Programs Working with Patients from Infancy to Young Adulthood

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Pediatric nurses work closely with family doctors and pediatricians to provide critical and preventative care by performing routine checkups, developmental screenings, immunizations and treatment of common illnesses. Pediatric nurses also work with the families of their patients to ensure healthy outcomes for the children they treat. This guide outlines the clinical experience and academic requirements for anyone interested in pursuing a nursing career with a specialty in pediatrics.

Top Pediatric Nursing Programs for 2017

With the growing need for pediatric nurses throughout the country, more schools are offering specialized programs to prepare students to enter into this unique and fulfilling field. Students will progress through a comprehensive curricular schedule, learning the day-to-day skills needed to perform routine checkups and treat common illnesses. We know that it can be overwhelming to dig through the seemingly countless programs available, so we’ve put together a list of the best pediatric programs by analyzing criteria that’s important to students including cost and graduation rates. Explore the top pediatric nursing programs for 2017 here.

RankSchool Title Net Price Financial Aid Total Programs Student-Teacher ratioNCLX ValueRanking Score School Description Additional Benefits: Placement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience
1 Emory University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
49%
Total
Nursing Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
86%
Ranking SCORE 95.74
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Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
2 Union University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
88%
Total
Nursing Programs
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
92%
Ranking SCORE 93.09
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Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
3 Villanova University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
53%
Total
Nursing Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
85%
Ranking SCORE 92.75
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Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
4 University of Cincinnati-Main Campus Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
54%
Total
Nursing Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
87%
Ranking SCORE 92.63
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Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
5 Case Western Reserve University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
84%
Total
Nursing Programs
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
90%
Ranking SCORE 92.07
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Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
6 Wright State University-Main Campus Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
67%
Total
Nursing Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
90%
Ranking SCORE 91.35
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Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
7 Boston College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
42%
Total
Nursing Programs
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
94%
Ranking SCORE 89.56
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Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
8 Seton Hall University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
97%
Total
Nursing Programs
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
75%
Ranking SCORE 88.87
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Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
9 Loma Linda University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
N/A
Total
Nursing Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
86%
Ranking SCORE 88.50
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
10 MGH Institute of Health Professions Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
N/A
Total
Nursing Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
83%
Ranking SCORE 86.73
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes

Educational Road Map for Pediatric Nurses

Get your associate degree in nursing (ADN) or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), taking courses in child health and psychology to prepare for work in pediatrics.

Pass your National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and begin working as a registered nurse (RN) and gain experience in the field of pediatrics.

Earn an advanced degree in pediatric nursing (optional).

Earn your pediatric nurse certification through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. Pediatric nurses can also obtain advanced certifications in specific pediatric specialties, such as primary care, behavioral and mental health, and acute care.

From RN to Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

A registered nurse is often the first responder in a neonatal situation. The registered nurse is a critical part of the birthing team and vital in the health and survival of the newborn. He or she cares for newborns with a variety of problems in their first weeks of life and afterward. They can treat children in acute care departments such as the neonatal unit, pediatric critical care unit and pediatric oncology ward.

RN skill #1

Develop and provide clinical supervision Pediatric nurse application

Registered nurses are licensed to provide and supervise care for pediatric patients, and some operate in their own stand-alone practices.

RN skill #2

Vital sign monitoring Pediatric nurse application

In emergency situations, neonatal care and general practice, registered nurses monitor the vital signs of patients. If necessary, this information is reported to the practicing physician for additional treatment or monitoring.

RN skill #3

Pain assessment/management Pediatric nurse application

Pediatric nurses can assess and manage the pain of their patients in a variety of ways. In a neonatal unit, they can assess pain through vital sign monitoring and assessing the stress of the infant through crying, oxygen requirements and facial expressions.

RN skill #4

Assist with code/resuscitation Pediatric nurse application

Nurses specializing in neonatal care have the tools and knowledge needed to assist in resuscitating these fragile patients. Traditional practices don’t work with neonatal patients because they require special care.

First Step to Pediatric Nursing: Undergraduate Degree

An associate degree in nursing (ADN) or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) is the first step to a career in pediatric nursing. Aspiring pediatric nurses should use their undergraduate studies as an opportunity to take elective courses relating to child health, child psychology and human development as they prepare for work in the pediatrics field.

Graduates with an ADN or a BSN are well-prepared to take the national licensing exam, the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), which is required for practicing nursing. Since working experience at a registered nurse (RN) is a required step towards specializing in pediatric nursing, earning an undergraduate degree and passing the licensure exam are essential.

Associate-level degrees typically require two years when attending full time—or as little as 12 months if studying through an accelerated program—while a bachelor degree generally takes four years to complete. An ADN can be used towards completing a BSN, thus fulfilling the undergraduate requirements for those who wish to attain a master’s degree in pediatric nursing.

For more information, visit our detailed pages on the ADN and the BSN.

Becoming a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner: Master’s Degree

A master of science in nursing (MSN) with a specialization in pediatrics gives students more advanced training in pediatric care as well as practical experience necessary to become experts in the field. Most degrees focus on health care management, disease prevention, health promotion and leadership. Some programs offer students the option to emphasize in neonatal care, critical care, pediatric oncology and other highly specialized fields. A master’s degree allows graduates to advance their careers by working alongside physicians to diagnose illnesses, prescribe medication and therapies, conduct checkups, and counsel patients and family members. Some pediatric nurse practitioners even run their own private practices.

Earning a master’s in nursing opens the door to additional certification opportunities, which can allow nurses to earn a higher salary than those who hold a bachelor’s degree. It is often required to pursue a leadership or administrative position and is a stepping stone to earning a doctorate in the field. A nurse looking to specialize in a specific area of pediatrics (such as pediatric oncology, primary care, and acute care) must first earn a master’s degree as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP).

Master’s-level students learn about advanced topics in pathophysiologic concepts, pediatric pharmacotherapeutics, human development and human behavior. Clinical hours are required, providing supervised clinical practice that’s required to meet eligibility criteria for national certification. Graduates of most programs are eligible for credentials from the National Certification Board of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and Nurses or the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

The following provides a sampling of courses typically found in an MSN program focused on pediatric nursing.

Course Description
Clinical Pharmacology

Explores the clinical uses, side effects, interactions and contraindications for drug groups.

Advanced Practice in Primary Care

Offers clinical practice and experience working with pediatric patients in health care settings.

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Emphasizes the role of the advanced practice nurse in counseling, educating and screening children and families in health promotion and disease prevention.

Pathophysiologic Concepts

Analyzes the effect and progression of diseases in diverse populations across their lives.

Current Issues in the Delivery of Advanced Pediatric Care

Synthesizes the skills, health policies and trends, theories and ethical principles of working with pediatric patients.

APN Role Within the U.S. Health Care Delivery System

Illustrates how the health care system works and the role of the advanced practice nurse within that system.

Philosophical, Theoretical and Ethical Basis for Nursing

Analyzes conceptual models and frameworks of nursing and ethics, and its implications for nursing practice.

Certification: Last Step to Working as a Pediatric Nurse

The national Pediatric Nursing Certification Board was formed in 1975 by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to provide a certification program for those looking to become pediatric nurses. The AAP recognizes other specialization areas for advanced practice, licensing board-certified nurse practitioners for all areas of interest.

A specialty certification recognizes nursing excellence and a commitment to continuing education in a specialized area of medicine. Certified nurses have demonstrated advanced knowledge in a specialty through exams and practical experience. Health care organizations that employ certified nurses receive accreditation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association.

Steps to Certification

Hold a valid, unrestricted RN license
Complete at least 1,800 hours of pediatric clinical experience within the last 24 months
OR
Work as a pediatric nurse for at least five years and have 3,000 hours of pediatric nursing experience within the last five years (with at least 1,000 of those hours in the last two years)
Submit an application and pay the fee
Pass the board exam within 90 days of the application.
The nurse is awarded board certification.