What is a Certified Pediatric Nurse?

wiseGEEK Writer

A certified pediatric nurse (CPN) is a nurse with usually a bachelor of science in nursing, who has also trained extensively, usually through direct work, to assist the pediatric population. Pediatrics refers to those patients between the ages of 0-18. When experience in working in pediatrics is significant and/or masters level work in pediatric nursing is obtained, nurses can take an examination offered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board to become a certified pediatric nurse. There are many reasons why this is desirable, and some of these include that it can elevate pay to have this certification, and it may make finding jobs in the pediatric specialty easier and less competitive.

A certified pediatric nurse may perform a variety of tasks.
A certified pediatric nurse may perform a variety of tasks.

The certified pediatric nurse should not be confused with the certified pediatric nurse practitioner (CPNP). There are master’s programs designed to teach nurses to become practitioners, but not all people choose this profession. They typically take longer than CPN master’s programs, and require different testing.

Certified pediatric nurses often work in hospitals.
Certified pediatric nurses often work in hospitals.

There are many different places that a certified nurse practitioner could work. Many of these nurses are employed to give inpatient care to pediatric populations in hospitals. Others might work in critical care or urgent care facilities, doctor’s offices, in schools, or in public health education. People with master’s degrees in this subject may teach it to other nurses.

Given the different ways in which a CPN can perform work, it’s difficult to arrive at a single definition of what the certified pediatric nurse does. In hospital settings, he or she works assessing patients, giving medication as ordered, and noting changes in health by taking or reviewing vitals or by observing patients. These nurse may be of particular help to families since they have much direct contact with them, and they may help educate families on care of ill children, while providing support to families during the difficult times when children are hospitalized. Nurses most often cannot give direct diagnosis about illnesses to parents, but will certain bring parent concerns to doctors.

In other settings like doctors’ offices, the certified pediatric nurse may do initial exams, administer vaccines, check vitals, speak to parents on the phone and educate families and kids about health. They usually work under direct supervision of nurse practitioners or doctors. Again, they are typically not allowed to diagnose conditions or prescribe medications, but they do form a vital part of the assessment team.

As with many other nursing fields, there is an expected increase in demand for CPNs. Salaries are very good, especially in hospital work, and many nurses really enjoy working with the pediatric population. It is one of the more popular specialties in nursing, and there can be competition to get jobs, even if demand for nurses increases. People may have an edge on the competition if they have obtained a master’s degree with focus in pediatrics.

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