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How to become a pediatric nurse - Jobs after the Au Pair year

by Julia on Feb 06, 2020
How to become a pediatric nurse - Jobs after the Au Pair year
It’s kinda obvious that people who want to become an Au Pair have a special bond to children. But the Au Pair stay will eventually come to an end and many people wish to continue working with kids. It stands to reason that working as a pediatric nurse could be an ideal job opportunity! You’ve already proven that you can handle working with kids, now you can dig even deeper into children’s health and wellbeing. 
 
In this article we’re going to explain what a pediatric nurse does, what a person with this profession earns and how you can become a pediatric nurse yourself!

What is a pediatric nurse?

Pediatric nurses often see their profession not only as a job but as a vocation. No wonder, since they are playing an important role in a child’s and his/her family’s life. Nurses provide individuals with health and medical care. Pediatric nurses are specialized solely on children’s needs from birth to their late teen years. Despite the fact that children are their main patients, they often deal with the patient’s parents and family. They explain the child’s condition and offer reassurance. 
 
Together with physicians and other healthcare professionals, they build a team dedicated to children’s health. In fact, nurses see the little patient way more often than the actual doctor. Their duty is to take care and spend time with them when they don’t feel so well. 
 
To get ready for this task they complete a training in pediatrics in which they learn everything about children’s healthcare needs. Since their bodies are still growing, you can’t compare an adult's illness to a children’s one. It needs empathy but also a lot of expertise to handle every situation in the right way. 
 
Additionally, since children can’t always communicate their problems - especially the younger ones can’t even speak yet - it takes a lot of patience and empathy to find out where it hurts and to calm down the little patient. Moreover, as an expert on children’s health, pediatric nurses can explain the condition clearly and in an appropriate way. They can use this knowledge to inform the parents about the diagnosis and the treatment. 

Tasks involved in the job

There are many different tasks involved in nursing. Like any other type of nurse, pediatric nurses provide health care. Their routine may include tasks like physical examinations, taking blood and vaccinating children. Other duties are:
  • perform physical examinations in schools
  • measuring vital statistics
  • organize care schedules for several patients
  • intervene in emergency situations
  • decrease the child's pain by providing medication
  • checking signs of abuse
  • support and care for dying children
There are also other duties which require soft skills such as maintaining privacy in the relationship to the patient or advocating for the children’s needs. Also anticipating the patient’s fears is a very important duty of a nurse.

Working conditions

The working conditions of a pediatric nurse depend on the work setting. Nurses can work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, schools, educational settings and other health care settings such as counseling. 
 
There are other specifications like the emergency unit, neonatal unit, cardiology or oncology. The size of the facility often determines how many units a hospital has. The bigger the hospital, the more potential options you have.
 
However, there are also community projects for children who have limited access to health care. Some pediatric nurses also work in developing countries. Doctors without Borders for example are always looking for pediatric staff for their international teams. Working for an NGO can be a really rewarding experience. But caring for children and facing the world-wide misery is challenging though. A nurse, especially those who work with children, must be able to keep distance. We’ll talk about the skills that you need below. 
 
Furthermore, the working times can be difficult as well. Children get sick 24/7, so it’s possible that you work in shifts, night work and work on the weekends included. In many countries, medical staff feels overwhelmed and ignored by politics because the healthcare system is disastrous in many regions of the world. If you feel that you want to help and are not afraid of hard work, then keep on reading.

How to become a pediatric nurse

The way of becoming a pediatric nurse is different in every country since most governments regulate the educational system differently. We will sum up the general way of how to become a pediatric nurse.

Step 1: Find out if this job is for you

Before you even start to apply for jobs, think about if you really want to become a pediatric nurse. You will experience the healing of children but at the same time you will be confronted with a lot of pain. Seeing a child die is something that you will never forget. If you feel that you still want to comfort children in this situation and create the best possible atmosphere for them, then go for it!

Step 2: Get in touch with health care facilities

Get some practice! In most parts of the world there are not enough people working in health care. Considering the lack of staff almost everywhere around the globe, you will find many opportunities to give a helping pair of hands. Apply for an internship or volunteer in a hospital. Sometimes clinics are looking for people who read stories to children who suffer from cancer. This is a good way to find out if you fit. 

Step 3: Become a nurse

This step is different in every country. We will cover the different ways in the section “Training and certification”. In some countries, you will need to do an apprenticeship whereas in other countries you will need to attend college or university. 

Step 4: Get your specialisation

This step depends on the country you want to work in. In some regions, the apprenticeship as a nurse allows you to work in a pediatric department. In some states, like the US for example, you would need to get an additional certification. This will showcase your expertise in this field and also allows you to dive into pediatrics. 

Training and certification

Since the training and specialisations vary in every country, we’re going to tell you more about some selected countries:
  • United States: In the US, you first have to become a registered nurse (RN). To be eligible for the CPN program (certified pediatric nurse) you will need a diploma, an associate’s degree, a Bachelor or Master of Science Degree in Nursing or higher. However, it will be easier for you to find a job if you hold at least a Bachelor’s degree. The training is composed of formal education and hands-on experience. The whole training will take you 4-6 years depending on the degree you pursue. To have the best career options, you should attend college after graduating from school.
  • Germany: In Germany, the regulation for this job changed on January 1, 2020. Before, people could start an apprenticeship after graduating from school focusing solely on child nursing. Since the beginning of the year, the training for pediatric, geriatric and general nursing is now combined. This means that you won’t only focus on children but also on general nursing and the needs of the elderly. This step was taken because there are not enough nurses in general in Germany and young people should get training which prepares them to work in several work environments. The apprenticeship takes 3 years. During this time, you will attend courses in a special nursing and healthcare school while having placements in clinic and other working settings such as outpatient care. At the moment more and more courses on the university arise but no one can really tell if it will be an advantage to have a degree in nursing. You don’t need it to work as a nurse anyway.
  • Australia: The situation in Australia is quite similar to the US. To work in pediatrics you first have to become a registered nurse and this takes a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at University for 3-4 years. After your graduation you need to work in a clinical setting at least for 12-18 months before starting the graduate certificate.
  • Ireland: Once you have your leaving certificate it takes a 4 years Bachelor in Nursing to work as a nurse in Ireland. There is also a 1-2 year postgraduate degree which you can use to specialize in pediatrics. Alternatively (and if you already know that you only want to work with kids), you can begin a Bachelor’s degree in Pediatric Nursing which will take 4 years.
  • Italy: In Italy, there is no strict differentiation between nurses. To become a nurse, you need to attend courses in a 3 years Bachelor’s degree. If you want to work in healthcare management and improve your career, you can also add a specialisation which will take 2 years. However, this training is only optional. You can start working after you finish the Bachelor degree.
  • Countries in Africa: In countries like South Africa, Zambia, Uganda, Malawi and Kenya, only 1% of the nurses are specialised in pediatrics. The governments in those countries want to strengthen the workforce in this field. In South Africa for example, an undergraduate degree can be completed in 4-5 years. After graduating, they can add a Master’s degree in general nursing, psychiatric nursing or midwifery. 

Job outlook

Your job outlook as a nurse in a nutshell: excellent! Unfortunately, there will always be sick children in the world. Fortunately, you will be there to help them! As a pediatric nurse you have very good job opportunities in terms of finding a job right after graduating and having a stable, secure job situation. Many countries even face a lack of medical staff, so the time for becoming a nurse is now! 
 
However, there are also downsides to the job when you consider the salary in some countries, even though nurses hold a great responsibility and are essential for a working health care system, in some countries you might not earn as much as you would in a company. We will shed a light on the salary down below. Nonetheless, if you really want to help people and make the world a better place, money might not be the most important thing in your life anyway. The decision if you want to pursue this career depends on your general goals in life.

What does a pediatric nurse earn?

The salary of a pediatric nurse varies in every country. Please keep in mind that the economic situation of the country you want to work in will affect your income as well as factors like:
  • formal education
  • age
  • work experience
  • size of the facility you’re working in
  • specialisation
  • position within the facility
Here you can find detailed salary information for the most popular countries. Down below we sum it up in a table for a quick overview.
  • USA: In the US, your salary greatly depends on your formal education. You have the best chances when you hold at least a Bachelor’s degree. The range for pediatric nurses varies from $52,000 to 88,000 gross income per year. Please note that you will find yourself at the lower end when holding a diploma, and at the higher end when holding a Master’s degree.
  • Germany: A positive factor in the German system is that you get paid during your apprenticeship. While studying you will get around €1,100 per month. The negative thing is that this number doesn’t increase too much after you finish the training. A pediatric nurse gets around €28,000 gross salary per year. However, many nurses work in public service which means that your salary will increase with your working experience. In the end you can get around €39.000 when you work for more than 15 years.
  • Spain: In Spain, you can get around €33,00 per year as a registered nurse.
  • UK: As a newly qualified nurse you can earn around £22,000 per year in the UK. As you progress, the salaries range from £26,000 to 40,000 depending on your acquired skills and responsibilities. 
  • Canada: The entry level position as a pediatric nurse starts at $ 55,000 whereas experienced workers make up to $150,000. The average salary in Canada is $88,000 at the moment. 
  • Norway: The annual salary of a nurse in Norway is around NOK 505,000 which translates into around €50,000 or $55.000. 
  • France: The average salary for a pediatric nurse in France is €44,000. However, the location can play a role since you will often earn more in bigger cities. 
  • Italy: As some of you might know, there is a pay gap between the north and the south of Italy. In most cases, people in the north tend to earn more money than in the south. On average, the salary for a nurse is € 30,000 per year.
  • Ireland: The average salary in Ireland is €32,000 when you followed the steps of the official training which involves a Bachelor’s degree.
 
The table shows the annual gross income in several countries:
 
Country Range Average
Canada 55,000-150,000 $ 88,000 $
France 30,000-52,000 € 44,000 €
Germany 19.000-39.000 €  28.000 €
Ireland 31,000-36,000 € 32,000 €
Italy 24,000-62,000 € 49,000 €
Norway 45,000-100,000 € 52,000 €
Spain 23,000-40,000 € 33,000 €
United Kingdom 26,000-40,000 £ 34,000 £
USA $52,000-88,000 $ 71,100 $

Should I become a pediatric nurse? - Skills and qualifications

Should I become a pediatric nurse - that’s the question! Let’s sum up what we’ve already covered: your job outlook is great. When you get good training you can easily find a job. The salary in most cases is good but you need to have special training which oftentimes includes an academic degree. But these considerations only involve hard facts. What about your skills and your personal interests?
 
Working as a pediatric nurse, you will face injuries, trauma and illnesses in children. Obviously, this is not for everyone. There are some personality factors which can guide you to the answer.
 
You should become a pediatric nurse if you:
  • are extraordinarily calm and patient
  • don’t get annoyed when there is chaos around you
  • are a caring and loving person (not only for your loved ones)
  • are crazy about kids
  • are sociable
  • are a quick learner
  • are not afraid of responsibility
  • have a stable personality and can cope with difficult, even heartbreaking cases
  • had good grades in subjects like biology or psychology
  • are a good multitasker
You definitely should not become a pediatric nurse if you:
  • don’t like clinical settings
  • can’t see blood 
  • would like to have stable working hours
  • can’t cope with body fluids, open wounds or close body contact
  • panic very easily when you see an injured person
  • tend to have a depressive mood
  • can only focus on one thing at a time
  • like kids but only when they’re nice
  • had bad grades in biology or other related subjects
  • shy away from responsibility
  • don’t want to spend 3-4 years in training
All in all, we can say that most of the skills that a pediatric nurse needs to perform can be learned but many people who work in this job are naturally good with kids. And this lead us to the Au Pair program.

Why you should be an Au Pair before becoming a pediatric nurse

The decision to become an Au Pair is based on many different reasons. Spending a gap year allows you to think about what you really want in life and to see the world from another culture’s perspective. For people who consider a career in healthcare, the Au Pair program offers three striking advantages. 
 
First of all, you can find out if you really can handle kids. Even if you like your little siblings or cousins, nothing compares with being responsible for a bunch of kids and caring for them several hours a day. You will face tantrums, joy and everything in between. If you still are fond of kids after your Au Pair stay, you should definitely think about a career in nursing. 
 
On the other hand, being an Au Pair enables you to learn the language of the country. So, if you already decided to work abroad afterwards, you can perfect your language skills since this is often a requirement before finding a job. Last but not least: you get familiar with the country and the culture and this is an invaluable advantage. In case you plan to stay in the country and build a life there, being an Au Pair stay is often the first step
 
As you can see, there are many good reasons to become an Au Pair before starting to work, especially if you consider nursing as an option for you. We hope that our blog post could help you in making a decision about your future career. If you need more inspiration have a look at our job series in which we talk about Au Pair related professions. We wish you all the best and don’t forget to leave a comment below!
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Some Thoughts...
Jacqueline
Feb, 07, 2020 - 02:02 pm
Commendable approach would love to be part of it
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