I want the truth!

Specialties Pediatric


Hi! I am in my last year of nursing school(finally!) and will be receiving my BSN next May. I am interested in pediatrics. Can some experienced nurses out there tell me the perks and downfalls? Also, people tell me that every nursing student wants to go into pediatrics and that it might be difficult to find a job. Is pediatric nursing feeling the effects of the nursing shortage too? Thanks for all the replies!

First of all, why do you want to go into Pediatrics? There is a misconception out there that it is "easier" than med surg or other nursing. That is far from the case. I have been a Peds nurse since 1978 after first getting 4 years of Med Surg experience. Medical Surgical experience of at least one year WAS a requirement of application to our peds unit but that is now waived due to the nursing shortage. And everyone doesn't want to go into peds, we have many students come through who cannot tolerate seeing hurt and sick children. And we do see children die.

You must LOVE working with children and their families, grandparents, step parents, aunts, uncles and all... You must also be prepared for a lack of understanding of just what a Peds nurse does by those in administration, and by other nurses. We are thought of as "playing" and just "feeding and holding babies". Yet when we have a critically ill infant who needs intubation, or an abused child we can find no one to help, supervisors disappear and we never see administration.'

On my unit we have a wonderful staff and support each other. We also must take adult overflow, cardiac caths, angiogram patients, adult ambulatory post ops and still be able to care for our ill pediatric population. Recently it has become more overwhelming than rewarding. It was decided we don't need a Ped nurse manager, a maternity manager with no peds background will take over her duties. We have no pediatric nurse clinician or educator, we must seek out ped specific inservices ourselves. We have taken many staffing cuts over the years because they feel with a census less than the med surg floors we should have much less staff, no ward clerk, pull the attendants, etc.

The shortage has affected us as it has all areas of nursing, hospitals don't want to increase staffing to where we as bedside nurses feel it should be. It doesn't matter that a baby needs to cry longer than it should for attention, that we have 4 direct peds admits and only two RNs on the floor with no secretary, that there is no one to stay with the child with no family present...

I have always loved pediatric nursing, if I could no longer work on peds and was offered a position on an adult floor I would leave nursing altogether, it can be rewarding when you can do it the way it should be done.

Hi jujubee,

Specializing in Pediatrics can be very rewarding and very difficult at the same time. I agree with rck213 on almost all points (except those specific to where you are employed). Each specialty has specific skills that you develop once you are into that field. With Pediatrics, ALL of your assessment skills need to be used, and they have to be specific for each childs age. For example, things as simple as vital signs vary greatly with every child. And drug dosages..not standard with kids. When a young child cannot tell you what is wrong..you must figure it out via assessments that include everything. That includes the entire family as well. You have to monitor and observe the patients very frequently because their status changes in a matter of minutes, even in the non-PICU settings. There is a world of difference between adult and pediatric illnesses, diseases and nursing.

I too, did several years of adult med-surg prior to my 13 yrs pediatric experience. In my opinion, I feel that this enabled me to realize the differences between adults and peds and develop a good organizational skills base which is definitely needed.

There is a nursing shortage in peds, as in most all nursing areas. Finding a job should not be a problem. Good luck to ya! :)

Julie, no matter how difficult and how challenging pediatric is it remains by far the best nursing you can practice!! I have been a pediatric nurse for only 11 years but one thing I know, it would not be any other way!! You have to realise that a child is not a single unit but one part of a system called family. The family will always be present in the care you will give. Beyond the lack of nurse, the workload that is very difficult at times, the frustrations with the time restriction versus the support you would like to give, there will be a child to make you feel warm and proud of what you are doing. I had a terrible winter and the only element that kept me where I am is the type of pts I have. It says a lot, everytime I went to a job interview I became so sad that I could not accept any so I am still there!! Have fun and don't worry!!!

I am a pediatric HIV/AIDS nurse and I love it! I have always pretty much known that pediatrics is what I wanted to do. There is ups and downs in every field and every profession. Good luck! We always need warm and caring people to help our children.

Specializes in ER.

i started as a new grad in peds and it didn't seem to slow me down much when i went to different areas. and by now i can start an iv on a rock.:D but to do peds you will be dealing with a lot of terrified and sometimes very emotional families, you need to be mature and centred enough to cope with them without stressing out yourself. you have to have wonderful and detailed assessment skills, as kids can't tell you where it hurts, or many times if they are better or worse after a treatment. you need to enjoy lots and lots of visitors and be able to do a head to toe on a moving target, whether playing or crying. and most of all the varying dosages of drugs slow down nursing care as they need to be exact

when i started working with adults i was used to crisis mode, as kids get very sick, and then better very fast. i was overwhelmed by multiple diagnosis, but able to deal with large life threatening problems. i hadn't dealt alot with "self induced" illnesses, and still find people who malinger a pain in the rump.

i think if you want to go for peds right out of school, and you deal well with people/parents you should go for it. i think peds nurses are a bit soft hearted too, so they are more likely to nurture an eager young nurse. (just my opinion)

I went to peds right out of school and never looked back. There are plenty of peds nursing jobs out there (you want a job? I could give you one!!). Kids are great, they recover much quicker than adults, and don't complain nearly as much. Do peds at a children's hospital, not a community hospital with a small population. All you will see at the latter are broken bones, tonsillectomies, etc. At a teaching hospital, you see it all.

Best of luck!!

When a child loves you even after you've caused pain and made him cry, you understand why people say that they are God's most precious gift. You also realize why you became a nurse. The children are honest. They have no hidden agendas. When you've earned their trust and their love, you will have that love for as long as they live. Believe me, the rewards out weigh the bad stuff. I hope you go into peds.

Burned out because of parents...I found it hard to deal with their issues and many of them took their frustration out on you. I'm in ER now, I love it.. The good thing about nursing is if you don't like it , there is a lot of other options to try...good luck


I started in a peds intermediate ICU as a new grad and I loved it. I never had an problems at all being a new grad. I knew all through nursing school and even before then that this was all I ever wanted to do. It's been 6 years and I've never looked back. I now work in a pediatric cardiac ICU and whole organ transplant ICU.

Both units I've worked on hire new grads, and the nursing shortage has defintiely hit peds just as hard as everywhere else.

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