Paediatric nurses provide specialist nursing care for children. The majority of the UK’s paediatric nurses are employed by the NHS, while the rest are employed by private clinics, hospices, charities, schools, community health centres and other healthcare service providers.
If you become a paediatric nurse you’ll be assisting paediatricians and other medical specialists in the diagnosis, observation, testing and treatment of young patients across the full cycle of paediatric healthcare.
Paediatric nursing is essentially no different to adult nursing, except for the fact that all of your patients will be kids. Consequently, you’ll be carrying out typical nursing activities, such as monitoring temperature, pulse, breathing and blood pressure and recording accurate results at regular intervals.
Furthermore, you’ll be providing prescribed medication through oral or intravenous methods, administering fluids, helping doctors with tests and patient examinations, and prepping patients for surgical procedures.
You’ll also be responsible for providing information to patients and their families in an appropriate manner and alleviating their concerns with guidance and support. However, it’s not all about hands-on patient care – paediatric nursing comes with its fair share of paperwork, too.
For instance, you’ll be responsible for preparing and maintaining detailed patient records, and conducting research to make sure you’re up to date on the latest developments in the provision of nursing and paediatric healthcare, rules and regulations, new drug therapies, equipment and treatment procedures.
Salary & benefits
Salaries for nursing professionals are fixed in accordance with NHS wage bands. Entry-level nurses start on just over £21,000 per annum, while more experienced paediatric nurses earn between £26,000 and £41,000.
If you eventually become a nurse consultant, you’ll have the opportunity to earn somewhere between £39,000 and £68,000 a year.
Paediatric nurses need to be flexible with their time, as their working hours tend to be long, irregular and unsociable. Nurses tend to work in accordance with planned shift patterns. However, these are subject to last-minute changes or adjustments, and nurses need to be prepared for on-call duty with little or no prior notice.
Consecutive shifts are also frequent, especially in facilities with staff shortages and 24-hour accident and emergency services.
Although the entry requirements for nursing are set to undergo a complete change from September 2013 onwards, paediatric nurses currently need to obtain a pre-registration diploma of higher education or degree in nursing, which takes three or four years to complete (including a foundation learning year and two or three years of specialist learning in paediatric nursing). Paediatric nurses also need to obtain membership from the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC).
Generally, paediatric nurses must also have good communication skills, patience, emotional and mental strength, high levels of self-motivation and confidence.
Training & progression
Upon successful completion of pre-registration studies, nurses are required to register with the NMC and move into full-time work. Registration needs to be renewed once every three years and is dependent on fulfilling continuing professional development requirements. Nurses also need to attend training courses throughout their career in order to keep their skills fresh and up to date.
Career progression is facilitated through ‘on-the-job’ performance. Many nurses eventually choose to specialise in a particular subcategory of paediatric nursing, such as neonatal, paediatric trauma, intensive care, or A&E.
Paediatric nurses can also move into teaching or research roles, become nurse consultants, or offer their expertise to community healthcare initiatives and international organisations, such as the Red Cross.