Why is there a shortage of pediatric nurses?

Updated | Posted
by Googlenurse Googlenurse, ASN, BSN, RN Member

Specializes in Home Health,Peds. Has 18 years experience.

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I know how much COVID affected shortages in med surg, ICUs, and skilled nursing facilities, but I am wracking my brain as to why there is a shortage of nurses that work with pediatric patients.

I know many pediatric patients did get sick with COVID, but not to the extent that adults did. 

klone, MSN, RN

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 16 years experience. 14,248 Posts

Because it's a very niche specialty, and unless the hospital is greater than 200 beds, it's highly unlikely that it has a dedicated pediatric department. Therefore, there aren't as many trained pediatric nurses around.

Wuzzie

4,812 Posts

Also pediatric nurses in dedicated pediatric hospitals are historically paid less than their adult counterparts. As above, it's a niche market. If you want peds you have to take what you get.

RNperdiem

RNperdiem, RN

Has 14 years experience. 4,518 Posts

From what I read, many people who were on the verge of retirement retired early during COVID, so more people left the labor market than usual in only a couple of years. 

RNNPICU, BSN, RN

Specializes in PICU. Has 16 years experience. 1,251 Posts

You also have to remember that everyone was impacted by the pandemic. Hospitals had to make lots of changes, even in pediatrics, Everything became harder ratios became worse in pediatrics and acuity was still high. People were pulled to do things that normally wouldn't be done.  

It is just that nurses everywhere are dissatisfied, burned-out, and fed up and want  better, it doesn't matter the speciality

Edited by RNNPICU
changed what to want

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 20 years experience. 4 Articles; 4,436 Posts

What some of the answers are leaving out is that Peds is a very hard specialty and it is very clicky. On any given shift the sick kids can be very sick and while all nurses have to deal with families to some extent parents and families of Children are some of the worst people I have had to deal with.

Hppy

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 17 years experience. 5 Articles; 10,983 Posts

3 hours ago, hppygr8ful said:

What some of the answers are leaving out is that Peds is a very hard specialty and it is very clicky. On any given shift the sick kids can be very sick and while all nurses have to deal with families to some extent parents and families of Children are some of the worst people I have had to deal with.

Hppy

I was tempted to post my one word response of “Parents” but you said it better than I could. 

ThePrincessBride, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in Med-Surg, NICU. Has 7 years experience. 1 Article; 2,556 Posts

Huh...I'm not sure why you are under the impression with pediatric nurses. It seems to be one of the most coveted specialties for new nurses (along with ED, N/ICU, L &D) and in my area, it is hard field to break into.

CommunityRNBSN

CommunityRNBSN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community health. Has 4 years experience. 801 Posts

19 hours ago, hppygr8ful said:

What some of the answers are leaving out is that Peds is a very hard specialty and it is very clicky. On any given shift the sick kids can be very sick and while all nurses have to deal with families to some extent parents and families of Children are some of the worst people I have had to deal with.

Hppy

Yes and the stakes are so high.  I know they're high for everyone, but having very sick children under your care-- while you're stared at by two parents who are at 100% stress level themselves-- must be extremely stressful.

Also, and I say this with love, Hppy, it's "cliquey."  Mean girls form a clique, not a click. 

To the OP question, too-- there are shortages EVERYWHERE and I'm not sure why!  I sub as a school nurse, and our district is so desperate, they're interviewing my new grad friend for a full-time school nurse position.  They would never have considered a new grad five years ago.  For that matter, my local CVS had to start closing early because they can't find enough front desk staff!  I guess it's just the Great Resignation, as they say.

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 20 years experience. 4 Articles; 4,436 Posts

On 4/23/2022 at 8:15 AM, CommunityRNBSN said:

Also, and I say this with love, Hppy, it's "cliquey."  Mean girls form a clique, not a click. 

I know but I was using auto-correct

CommunityRNBSN

CommunityRNBSN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community health. Has 4 years experience. 801 Posts

On 4/23/2022 at 1:04 PM, hppygr8ful said:

I know but I was using auto-correct

Makes sense.  I see "click" so often on this site, it's become a pet peeve.

adventure_rn, BSN

Specializes in NICU, PICU. 1 Article; 1,531 Posts

It's a weird combination of high census and high travel rates.

Most peds units were at a historic low census during covid (since scheduled surgeries were postponed, kids weren't getting the flu/RSV at school since they were isolating, and they weren't getting injured or into car accidents since they were stuck inside). Ever since then, there's been a crazy high peds census (at least according to friends I've talked to at peds hospitals in several states), although I don't know why. This has been true in peds and in NICU (although the census boom makes more sense in NICU since so many people put off getting pregnant in the early/mid covid days and are giving birth now instead).

The travel nurse rates are also a driving factor. Peds is so hyper-specialized that there isn't a very large pool of travelers. The high census and low number of available travelers drove the travel salaries way up, which caused a bunch of people to quit to travel, which then made the units even more short-staffed, which further increased the demand for travelers... It has become a vicious cycle (much like in the adult covid ICUs during the height of the pandemic).

All of of the peds units in my area are hiring new grads and new-to-specialty nurses like crazy, but they can't retain anyone because they're all quitting to travel or become NPs. It's almost impossible for them to hire experienced peds nurses, because why would an experienced peds nurse take a poorly paid staff position when they could make $5,000 per week as a traveler at the same facility?

Edited by adventure_rn