Children's nurse guide

Children's nurse guide

This guide to children’s nurses (paediatric nurses) looks at the main duties associated with this role and the qualifications and skills required by those who choose this career path.

What does a children’s nurse do?

Children’s nurses care for newborn babies, young adults, and all ages in between. Covering a wide range of specific health needs, this role involves supporting children and their parents or guardians and ensuring that the service user receives the care that they need. Each day will be different and could include helping with pain management, assisting with procedures, administering medication, and carrying out evaluations – all of which they will need to document.

Communication is a key part of being a children’s nurse, as many children are unable to explain how they’re feeling with the clarity that adults can. Being able to interpret behaviour and actions is vital, as is the ability to spot signs of deterioration which can happen very quickly in children. This career is very physically and emotionally demanding, and those who choose it must be able to manage their stress and work with sensitivity and empathy.

Who do children’s nurses work with?

As a children’s nurse, you’ll work as part of a multidisciplinary team who take care of service users with ages ranging from newborn to 18. This team can include doctors, healthcare assistants, social workers, psychologists, hearing specialists, and many more professions depending on the type of care that the child requires. Sometimes a children’s nurse will continue to care for an individual beyond the age of 18 should they need help adjusting to adult care.

In addition to working with a number of different healthcare professionals, children’s nurses will have a choice of settings to work in too. The most common settings include hospitals, clinics and working in the community – such as in a child’s home. Days tend to be very fast-paced, and the ability to organise time, be flexible, and work as a team is very important.

How long does it take to become a children’s nurse?

The main way to become a children’s nurse is through completing a degree, although you can also choose the nurse degree apprenticeship or nursing association apprenticeship routes instead. A bachelor’s degree will take three years and a master’s will take four years. You might opt for the master’s should you want to work in high-level management or education as this will open up additional career opportunities for you.

The grades and subjects you need to do a children’s nursing degree will depend on the university you choose, as each one has their own requirements. Many ask for at least five GCSEs at grade C or above (or equivalent) and two A-Levels (or equivalent).

If you’re considering becoming a nurse, take a look at our mental health nurse and community nurse guides too, as these will give you an idea of some of the other nursing career paths you can choose. You can also find out more in our nurse career guide.