A paediatric nurse works with children of all ages suffering from many different conditions. They play a key role in assessing children's nursing needs, taking into account their medical, social, cultural and family circumstances. Paediatric nurses then plan and deliver care in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, homes and in the community, as well as during transfers between these settings.
Paediatric nurses care for and support children and young people and work alongside their families in conjunction with other healthcare professionals.
It is important that a paediatric nurse understands the particular needs of children and how these change through each developmental stage. Being able to communicate appropriately with children and their parents or guardians is a key part of the job, as is working in partnership with other healthcare professionals to ensure continuity of care.
Typical work activities vary according to the role, but they may include:
More senior roles may include:
Salary data from NHS Careers. Figures are intended as a guide only.
Nurses must have a degree or diploma in nursing (a pre-registration programme) and be members of the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) , which allows them to practise as a nurse. However, from September 2013 anyone who wishes to study nursing will have to study a degree.
Pre-registration degrees and diploma programmes are offered in four branches: adult; children (paediatric); learning disability; and mental health. Usually, you will need to decide which of the four branches of nursing you wish to train for, before applying for a programme.
Until 2013, the options are:
Further advice can be obtained directly from institutions or from the NHS Careers website or helpline.
Applications for degree and diploma courses in England and Scotland are made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) . Diploma courses are not offered in Wales, but degree course information is available from the National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare (Wales) and application is through UCAS. In Northern Ireland, all applications for nursing education should be made directly to institutions. Details for individual institutions in Northern Ireland are available from the Northern Ireland Practice & Education Council for Nursing & Midwifery .
Entry criteria are set by individual universities, as required by the NMC to ensure that applicants provide evidence of meeting the minimum entry requirements, especially in literacy and numeracy. The minimum is usually five GCSEs at grade C or above (typically including English language or literature and a science subject), and two or three A-levels/Highers (or equivalent) for degree programmes. Check with individual higher education institutions directly.
Acceptance on a course is subject to satisfactory health clearance and Disclosure and Barring Service checks. Cases are considered on an individual basis and you will not necessarily be barred from working in the NHS if you have a criminal conviction.
Pre-entry experience is not essential but working as a healthcare assistant or having experience of care work or other work with children is highly advantageous. Voluntary work for your local NHS Trust or St John Ambulance would also be useful.
Candidates will need to show evidence of the following:
NHS Student Bursaries and the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) pay statutory bursaries and tuition fees for diplomas and degrees. For details of any possible financial support in Northern Ireland, contact the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland (DELNI) .
There may be strong competition for places on paediatric courses, so early application is advised.
For more information, see work experience and internships and search courses and research.
Once qualified and registered, continuing professional development (CPD) for nurses is a requirement of the profession. It is possible to take a variety of courses of differing lengths in a number of specialist areas. Some in-service training programmes last for up to a year. See the professional development section of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) for more details.
Nurses need to renew their registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) every three years. To do this, they provide a signed notification of practice (NOP) form and pay a renewal of the registration fee.
Nurses need to demonstrate 35 hours of learning activity in the three years prior to renewal of registration. Given the demands and responsibilities of the profession, personal career development within the NHS is set to the pace and circumstances of each individual.
Career development is structured and, after qualification and with experience, there are opportunities to specialise in a wide range of hospital and community areas. These may include burns and plastics, intensive care, cancer care, child protection, ambulatory care, asthma, orthopaedics, diabetes, neo-natal care, counselling, continuing care for children with special needs and work within young people's units.
As with other branches of nursing, there are opportunities to progress your career in management, teaching, research or in a community-based role, for instance as a school nurse or health visitor.
Many changes have been taking place within The National Health Service (NHS) and new opportunities are arising. NHS Direct in Scotland - the nurse-led telephone helpline - offers flexible opportunities outside hospital settings to nurses with post-registration experience.
Nurse consultant posts have been established across a wide range of services. Nurse consultants spend much of their time working directly with patients, but they are also responsible for developing personal practice, are involved in research, and contribute to education, training and development.
All nurses have a managerial element to their work, but some career paths are more management-orientated than others. As you become more senior, you can expect to have less hands-on nursing responsibility. You can move on to become a senior staff nurse, then ward sister or charge nurse. Management of a ward may lead to managing a clinical unit and, in the future, to executive posts within a trust.
Outside the NHS, opportunities for experienced practitioners can be found in private healthcare organisations, social services, voluntary organisations, charities such as Macmillan Cancer Support, teaching and assessment, and in health services overseas, in both paid and voluntary capacities. Nursing qualifications are transferable to other health services overseas. Registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) facilitates this and information is available from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) .
The majority of paediatric nurses work in NHS Authorities and Trusts . Others are employed in:
The majority of sick children are cared for at home by their families with the support of a community nursing team. A number of paediatric nurses are based totally in the community and some have a particular specialism, such as cystic fibrosis, diabetes or asthma. As in other branches of nursing, care is becoming more community based.
Many recruitment agencies regularly handle vacancies. For details, see Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) .
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