Pediatric Nursing: Finding Your Kid-friendly Zone


By Debra Wood, RN, contributor Find your kid-friendly zone in pediatric nursing

Have a hankering to work with children? Youngsters need quality pediatric nursing care, and nurses eagerly provide it—in a wide variety of nursing specialties. 

See what pediatric nurses have to say

“The children are so inspiring,” said Terese Gleason, RN, BSN, an oncology pediatric nurse at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “They are courageous and resilient.”

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Katie Wetsell, RN, MSN, CPNP, an assistant professor at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, knew she wanted to work with children early on. She has since seen many of her students pursue pediatric nursing jobs, as well.

“It was my passion and what I wanted to do,” Wetsell said. “I find it very hopeful. In the face of difficult circumstances, there is so much potential with children.”

Robert Sean Warnock, CFNP, MSN, a nurse practitioner at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, began in the emergency department and urgent care, before specializing in pediatric orthopedics about 14 years ago

“They come in, and you can fix them,” Warnock said about orthopedics. “You know they will have a better outcome for the work you put into it.”

Kate Dunphy, RN, MSN, a hospice and palliative care nurse with MJHS in New York, considers it an honor to work as part of an interdisciplinary team “that brings comfort to patients and their loved ones.” She explained that it takes a special mindset to work with pediatric patients and their families, but she enjoys building relationships and being part of a family’s safety net during a difficult time. .”

Tess Aberg, RN, BSN, CCRN, pediatric ICU nurse at Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego, and a participant in the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) Clinical Scene Investigator Academy, calls being a PICU nurse “exceptionally challenging and rewarding.”

“Every shift offers an opportunity for a new or different experience and creates an environment of constant learning,” Aberg said. “We frequently see some severe cases with unfortunate patient outcomes, which can be very emotional. At the same time, we see some amazing outcomes from diagnoses that appeared to have little to no hope.”

“I get a lot of fulfillment simply being there for the patient and their family no matter what the outcome is,” she added.

Other pediatric nursing specialties include pediatric ER nurses, pediatric OR nurses, pediatric home health nurses, school nurses and more.

Across the spectrum of sub-specialties, pediatric nursing requires an understanding of the child’s developmental level and requires providing family-centered care. 

Pediatric RNs work with children of all ages in a variety of settings, including hospitals’ pediatric ICUs and specialty clinics; skilled nursing facilities; schools; camps; home health; and hospice. Few pediatric RN jobs exist in primary care offices, Wetsell reported. 

“There are opportunities to jump right in [after nursing school] if you know that is what you want to do,” Gleason said. “It’s a great environment to grow professionally.”


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