Professional Development January 25, 2023

By Debra Wood, RN, contributor

The Ins and Outs of Pediatric Travel Nursing Jobs

Pediatric nurses care for ill and injured children in a variety of settings, attending to their patients’ care and also to their patients’ parents or other family members.

“What sets pediatric nursing apart from other specialties is that it allows nurses to care for and positively impact the health and well-being of children,” said Laura Amber Del Rio, MSN, MHA, SPHC.ed, RN, certification programs specialist at the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). 

Pediatric Nursing Jobs

Pediatric nurses help their young patients feel more at ease during medical exams, procedures and treatments. Pediatric nursing jobs, particularly in clinics or pediatrician offices, may include administering vaccinations and educating parents about their importance. In addition to being educated as a registered nurse, pediatric nurses also have special training to understand children’s development and how they react to illness or injury.

“One of the many reasons nurses choose pediatrics is the sense of fulfillment in helping children and their families navigate the unique challenges of childhood illness and injury,” Del Rio said.

Indeed reports more than 3,400 pediatric nursing positions available nationwide as of mid-January 2023. In addition, Onward Healthcare has dozens of pediatric travel nurse jobs available from coast to coast.

Pediatric travel nurses generally need a minimum of one year of experience before embarking on an assignment. Travelers are employed by the travel nursing agency and work closely with a recruiter who will handle all of the logistics, from job search through onboarding and relocation.

Nurse Licensure Compact Makes Travel Easy

”This fall and winter, the United States has grappled with rising flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) rates that created challenges for pediatric healthcare ecosystems,” said Nicole Livanos, JD, MPP, director, State Affairs with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. “These challenges created a need for more traveling pediatric nurses to provide vital healthcare across state lines, highlighting the importance of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which allows for more than 2 million nurses to practice in-person or through telehealth in their home state of licensure and in other NLC member states.”

Currently, 39 NLC jurisdictions and states participate in the compact.  

“Well-trained and already vetted pediatric nurses who have the ability to leverage their multistate licensure have played vital roles in providing critical patient care and protection to young children when needed most,” Livanos said.

Specialized Communication Skills

Pediatric nurses must communicate well with children of all ages, using a variety of techniques to put their patients at ease and explain what is happening in terms they can understand. When it comes to caring for teenagers, there can be additional challenges getting a teen to listen and follow care instructions. At the same time, nurses must talk with the patient’s family members and educate them about the care the child or teen will need after discharge.

“Pediatric nurses need to be able to communicate effectively with children and their families, as well as think critically and make sound clinical decisions,” Del Rio said.

Subspecialties in Pediatric Nursing

Pediatric nurses often subspecialize. Just as a variety of adult subspecialties exist, so do pediatric subspecialties. Pediatric nursing jobs are available in emergency departments, intensive care and stepdown units, and orthopedic, nephrology, oncology, cardiology units or other subspecialties.   

Work Settings for Pediatric Nurses

Nurses specializing in pediatrics often work in children’s hospitals and other acute care facilities, but pediatric nursing jobs also are available in outpatient clinics, pediatrician offices, schools, rehabilitation units and other settings, including in critical care flight nursing.

Pediatric nurses can find travel nursing assignments in these same settings.

Education Required

Candidates for pediatric nursing jobs must have graduated from an accredited registered nursing educational program and successfully passed the NCLEX. Hospitals often offer orientations and internship programs to help nurses transition into a pediatric nursing job.

To learn more about providing care in the specialty, AACN offers a variety of pediatric clinical resources at its website and the Essentials of Pediatric Critical Care Orientation course, used by hospitals but also available for individual purchases.

Another source of information is the Society of Pediatric Nursing.

Never Stop Learning

As with other nursing specialties, nurses in pediatrics must continue their education, as nursing and medical knowledge continues to grow with more research.

“Pediatric nurses stay current in their practice by attending continuing education courses and conferences, participating in professional organizations, and staying up to date on the latest research and guidelines in pediatric care,” Del Rio said.

Knowing nurses were faced with multiple patients with RSV, AACN and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) developed a free online course, Care of the Acutely Ill Pediatric Patient Respiratory Bundle, to help nurses care for patients with the condition and other respiratory illnesses.

“We are pleased to assist in the current efforts to address the overwhelming volume of children requiring hospital care due to the RSV and flu illnesses,” said Christine Bradley, MEd, BSN, RN, director, Learning and Performance at CHA, in a statement. “We hope the…[bundle] provides the needed knowledge for clinicians to feel prepared and confident to care for this patient population.”

Certification for Pediatric Nurses

Pediatric nurses also can become certified in the specialty, which shows their competency in pediatric nursing. Some employers will pay a certified nurse more than one without such certification, and certification can help travel nurses secure their preferred assignments. The Society of Pediatric Nurses supports and encourages certification.

The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board and American Nurses Credentialing Center offer general pediatric nursing certification.

AACN offers certification for nurses providing direct care to acutely ill pediatric patients: the CCRN pediatric for RNs and the ACCNS-P for advanced practice nurses.

Opportunities to See the Country

Pediatric travel nurses have the chance to see the country while contributing to a facility and community that needs their skills. Travel assignments provide the opportunity to learn new ways of doing things, which bolsters nurses’ credentials. These short-term jobs also provide the nurse with the opportunity to try out different settings and cities before deciding on a permanent relocation.

Ready to travel as a pediatric nurse? Contact an Onward Healthcare recruiter today.

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