Everyone who likes children thinks they can take care of them. Pediatric nursing, on the other hand, takes more than a set of Dickies scrubs and an ability to make kids smile. It requires a strong set of special skills.
There are tremendous benefits of a career in pediatric care, such as personal satisfaction. But, there can be significant disappointments for those not fully suited in personality or training.
Are You Ready?
Pediatric nurses only work with children. It is rewarding to use your skills and training to fix cuts and bruises, breaks and scrapes, colds and fevers, and the like. You need to know your stuff because children are not as ready or able to explain their problems or symptoms. You need to be nurturing and patient with children confused by the environment and frightened by the equipment.
But, working with minors who are seriously ill is especially difficult. You must deal with child and parents, and each require a certain tone and consolation, which can be heartbreaking. Dealing with heartbreaking issues over time is emotionally draining and, consequently, physically taxing.
Nursing with a pediatrician offers a lot of job variety and considerable personal reward from being able to cure illness and set bones to finally being able to send a child home. The variety of challenges (PDF) escalates in pediatric emergency centers. Some of the incoming cases are seriously traumatic. Think of the hospital in Moore, Oklahoma after the May 2013 tornado.
When working in cancer or terminal care units, well, it takes a special person.
In addition to the cumulative stress of working with children in pain and suffering, there is the need to comfort parents when there is not much promise. This is a tough job, but you are the someone parents can lean on after immediately hearing any bad news.
The pediatric nurse has to handle these tasks and avoid too much emotional attachment that can be very painful. The best hope is for the child's recovery, and the strength of such hope can make the moments precious and fulfilling.
Here's a few things to consider about your personality traits  (PDF) and whether this would be a suitable career path:
You must be comfortable in sometimes chaotic environments.
You cannot become upset easily, either by physical or emotional pressures.
You must be able to take orders yet work in a collaborative team.
You must be detailed and precise in work and analytic in assessment.
You must have strong scores in compassion, patience, and nurturing behaviors.
How to Become a Pediatric Nurse?
Most schools do not teach pediatric nursing as a specialty. You will train on the job. You would benefit from rotating through a variety of pediatric settings - clinic, emergency ward, and pediatric floor. If you settle on an environment, you will need additional courses in that specialty, such as cardio or oncology.
Balance your emotional and physical well being with exercise and nutrition. Partner with your family members to share the stress and rewards.
Learn to have fun on your own, with family, and at work. Break some habits. Be a little daring and take a few risks. Do something a little out of the usual. Children like colors and fun designs, so pick your Dickies scrubs with fun in mind .
Pick floral tops that look more like blouses than medical uniform or others with butterflies or cats. If you can bring a little silly to the job, you will find the work easier and more self-satisfying.