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What are some career options within the medical field that are related to pediatric nursing?

pediatric nursing

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Kylie’s Answer

Hi Morgan! Speech-language pathologists do many wonderful things with medically-complex children, from the NICU (https://www.chop.edu/services/niicu-feeding-specialist), to pediatric medical units, to outpatient and home health services, to school programs. We treat children with swallowing, feeding, speech, and language disorders as part of the medical team. Here is an introduction from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association: https://www.asha.org/students/speech-language-pathologists/.

I also have huge respect for my colleagues in respiratory therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, our pediatricians (and pediatric nurse practitioners and physician assistants), the social workers/case managers who assist with the "whole picture" of helping these children and their families... to name a few!
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Beth’s Answer

Hi Morgan! I’ll chime in for physical therapy. We work with people of all ages but pediatrics is a big speciality within the field. Pediatric physical therapists also work in NICU to promote normal movement and prevent stiffness. We also with any child with problems moving - from broken ankles to little league shoulder injuries to cancer to cerebral palsy and other special needs.
Physical therapy can be done in a hospital, an outpatient clinic or at home with home health.
Physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy are all graduate degrees needing 6-7 years of school. Nursing is a bachelor’s degree with 4 years of college. There is a big need for laboratory technicians, X-ray technicians, other special testing technicians such as MRI, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, respiratory therapy help people breath, orthotics and prosthetics make braces and artificial limbs, child life specialists help keep kids minds off their diagnoses with games, toys, activities, ABA therapies work with psychologists on behavior issues. Some of these are 2 year associate degrees, some are 4 years, some are 6 years.
All medical fields you will go to college and learn the basics of all ages, then you take extra specialized classes for pediatrics, there is not a pediatric nursing degree, you get your RN and then specialize.
Working with children is fun and challenging but remember parents are part of the equation too. You never get just kids without parents in medicine. (Parents are usually grateful and eager to help).
Good luck in your decisions!

Beth recommends the following next steps:

Visit APTA.org for more info on physical therapy
Keep your grades up, all the medical field is competitive
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Caroline’s Answer

Hi Morgan. Pediatric occupational therapy has a growing presences in the NICU, picu and pediatric palliative care.

In the nicu depending on the hospital, you could be helping infants learn to feed, provided massage and positioning strategies to families/staff, making splits and a lot more. I currently work in a nicu, each day brings new opportunities and challenges to grow my skill set while helping our most vulnerable population.

Working on the pediatric floors and picu can also be rewarding. The other day I was working with a patient who was weak from chemo, we danced to improve her strength and endurance. Fun and functional that’s what OTs do best :)
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Constance’s Answer

As a nurse there are many areas you can work with children but most of them are not working exclusively with them. You can work in home care, clinics, emergency rooms, pre hospital, children's hospitals, urgent cares, mental health. I would highly recommend not going directly into pediatric only and building your skills first, learning how to do things on an adult is hard, learning on a child can be impossible. I currently work with a traveling team doing sedation for pediatric dental procedures.
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Dr. Colette Forde’s Answer

Hi Morgan,
Your work as a Registered Nurse in the field of Pediatrics will depend on the type of institution you work for. In large academic medical centers that treat children with complex disorders, you will often find a hospital, or one of the tower's of a hospital, dedicated solely to the care of children. Many times these children are born with genetic disorders that require surgical and/or complex medical intervention. In this type of setting, you can work on a med-surg floor, a step-down unit, in the OR, ED, or ICU, to name but a few.

All hospitals have ambulatory pediatrics where children come for wellness checks, school physicals, vaccinations, see a Pediatrician on an ongoing basis for issues like asthma, diabetics, epilepsy, post-operative care, etc., This can be a large practice, staffed with medical assistants, LPNs, RNs, NPs who specialize in Pediatrics, Nurse Educators, general Pediatricians and Pediatricians who specialize in specific areas like endocrinology, cardiology, neurology, psychiatry, etc., Other members of the interdisciplinary team such as psychologists, physical therapists, speech therapists, social workers, and others (who have contributed to answering this question), make up the team who provide care, not just for the children, but also for the parents and siblings. Any team member who provides care in an adult setting will have the corresponding speciality in pediatrics.

Smaller hospitals usual have a few beds reserved for pediatric patients who need admission, but do not require complex, speciality care. Children are now generally cared for in an ambulatory setting - which is the goal. Preventive care and timely intervention mean that children do not require hospital admission.

So far, this answer has concentrated on the role of a nurse in the hospital setting and ambulatory offices. Nurses also work in programs like the Nurse Family Partnership, where they follow pregnant teens and young adults throughout their pregnancy, keeping them engaged in care, detecting problems early and teaching their patients how to care for their new arrival. They work in early intervention programs, in schools as school nurses, in home health, in palliative and hospice care programs. They work in tele-health and in urgent care centers, some of whom are specifically devoted to the world of pediatrics. As advanced practice providers, they can work as nurse educators (nursing professional development specialists), NPs, Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS), Clinical Nurse Leaders (CNL), and teach in colleges and universities.

One of the most important questions you need to think about would be where you would like to work - smaller community hospitals or large academic medical centers ? The answer to that question alone will determine your scope of practice. That does not mean you cannot change and grow within the world of Pediatrics as you gain more experience. Just like any other specialty, children will always need caring and competent nurses to help them grow and thrive into successful young adults.

Dr. Colette Forde recommends the following next steps:

Are you aiming for an AAS or a BSN in nursing as your primary degree ? You will need to go back to school for a BSN in the future if you want to advance your career.
Once you are in nursing school, you will have a clinical assignment in pediatrics, try to get as much exposure as possible to all of the areas where nurses work in that specialty.
Think about the type of setting you would like to work in as a new nurse and research what you need to get a job in that area.
Look for a Nurse Residency program in pediatrics when you graduate from school. This will set you up for success in your first year as a nurse.
Always be open to new possibilities and to learning. Once you do that, the sky is the limit.
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