How to Become a Pediatric Emergency Nurse

Many individuals often have a strong desire to assist children during emergencies, so pursuing a career as a pediatric emergency nurse is ideal for them.

In this role, you will be responsible for offering specialized care to children during times of crisis.

But how do you get there? What are the steps and requirements to become a pediatric emergency nurse?

I will guide you through the educational requirements, gaining experience in pediatric emergency care, and how to specialize in pediatric emergency medicine.

What is a Pediatric Emergency Nurse?

Pediatric emergency nurses specialize in providing specialized care to children, from infants to adolescents, in emergencies.

You will make quick decisions and provide life-saving interventions to critically ill or injured children. You will work closely with physicians, other nurses, and healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive and compassionate care.

For me, the most important point of this career is the emotional support pediatric emergency nurse provide to children and their families during stressful and often traumatic times.

Your ability to communicate effectively and build trust with patients and families will be essential in providing the highest quality of care.

You can learn these skills; it doesn’t come by magic or out of pocket, even if some of us are more inclined to naturally have these soft skills required to pursue a career in nursing.

You will first need specialized education and training and a deep commitment to helping children in their time of need. But the rewards are immeasurable for those willing to put in the effort.

You can make a real difference in the lives of children and their families, often during some of the most challenging moments of their lives.

Educational Requirements for Pediatric Emergency Nursing

To pursue a career in pediatric emergency nursing, you’ll need to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). While some hospitals may accept an Associate’s degree in Nursing (ADN), many pediatric emergency departments prefer BSN-prepared nurses, as they have a more extensive knowledge base and skill set.

Educational Requirements for Pediatric Emergency Nursing

You’ll take anatomy, pharmacology, and patient care courses during your BSN program. You’ll also complete clinical rotations in various healthcare settings, including emergency departments, to gain hands-on experience in providing patient care.

After obtaining your BSN degree, you’ll need to pass the NCLEX-RN. This exam tests your knowledge and competency in various areas of nursing, including patient care, safety, and ethics. Once you pass the exam, you’ll be licensed to practice as a registered nurse (RN).

Specialization in Pediatric Emergency Nursing

While not required, obtaining additional certifications and training can help you stand out as a qualified pediatric emergency nurse. Certifications such as the Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course (ENPC) demonstrate your competency in providing specialized care to children in emergencies.

You may also consider pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree specializing in pediatric emergency medicine. This advanced degree can prepare you for leadership roles in healthcare and allow you to provide more complex and specialized care to pediatric patients.

Gaining Experience in Pediatric Emergency Care

Hands-on experience in pediatric emergency care is crucial to your success as a pediatric emergency nurse. Internships, clinical rotations, and pediatric emergency department work are excellent opportunities to develop and refine your skills.

Gaining Experience in Pediatric Emergency Care

During your internship or clinical rotation, you will work alongside experienced pediatric emergency nurses and physicians, observe emergency care procedures, and provide direct patient care under supervision.

This experience will help you better understand pediatric emergency care’s unique challenges, develop critical thinking and decision-making skills, and learn to work effectively in a team-oriented environment.

If you can work in a pediatric emergency department, seize it. This will allow you to gain real-world experience in a fast-paced, high-stress environment. You will be responsible for assessing and triaging patients, administering medications, performing emergency procedures, communicating with patients and families, and collaborating with other medical professionals.

“Pediatric emergency care is not just a job; it’s a calling. It takes a special kind of person to handle the pressure and to provide compassionate care to children in their most vulnerable moments.”

Working in a pediatric emergency department requires exceptional communication skills, empathy, and the ability to remain calm and focused under stress. You must think quickly and make sound decisions, often with limited information and resources. But the rewards of helping children and their families during a crisis are immeasurable.

Remember, gaining experience in pediatric emergency care is an ongoing process. Even after completing your initial training and obtaining your nursing license, it’s important to continue seeking opportunities for professional development.

This may include attending conferences, obtaining advanced certifications, and staying up-to-date with the latest advancements in pediatric emergency healthcare.

Specializing in Pediatric Emergency Medicine

If you’re passionate about providing emergency care to children and want to advance your career, consider specializing in pediatric emergency medicine. This specialization will allow you to work directly with critically ill or injured children, opening up exciting new career opportunities.

Specializing in Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Specialization typically requires additional training and certifications beyond the basic requirements for a pediatric emergency nurse. This may involve completing a fellowship program in pediatric emergency medicine or obtaining a certification in pediatric advanced life support (PALS), among other options.

Pediatric emergency medicine specialists can work in various settings, including pediatric emergency departments, trauma centers, or academic medical centers.

This career can be rewarding and stimulating, as it allows specialists to impact the lives of children and their families significantly.

Continuing Education and Professional Development

Your education and professional development should never stop as a pediatric emergency nurse. You should attend conferences, workshops, and other continuing education opportunities to stay current.

This will help you stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in pediatric emergency healthcare and ensure you provide your patients with the best possible care.

There are many different areas of pediatric emergency healthcare that you can focus on, including trauma, critical care, and transport. You can demonstrate your expertise and become a highly sought-after specialist by obtaining advanced certifications in these areas.

  • Consider joining a professional organization like the Emergency Nurses Association or the Society of Trauma Nurses. These organizations offer a variety of resources, including webinars, publications, and networking opportunities.

Remember: the healthcare industry constantly evolves, and staying informed and adaptable is essential. Commit to ongoing education and professional development; you’ll be well-equipped to handle any challenges that come your way and make a lasting impact on the lives of your patients and their families.


Well done! You have mastered the essential steps required to become a pediatric emergency nurse.

By pursuing the educational pathway, obtaining practical experience in pediatric emergency care, specializing in pediatric emergency medicine, and working in a pediatric emergency department, you can positively impact children’s lives during their most critical moments.

It’s important to remember that becoming a pediatric emergency specialist is not just a job but a calling. You will face complex challenges and experience incredible rewards by helping children in need.

As you embark on your journey to becoming a pediatric emergency nurse, always prioritize ongoing education and professional development. Attend conferences and obtain advanced certifications to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in pediatric emergency healthcare.


What is the highest degree for a pediatric nurse?

Pediatric nurses must have at least an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and be licensed as Registered Nurses.

Some pediatric nurses pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree to become Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNPs) or Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) who can assess, diagnose and treat acute pediatric illnesses. The highest degree for a pediatric nurse would be a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), a terminal degree in nursing practice.

Is emergency nursing stressful?

Emergency nursing is a stressful job. Nurses in the Emergency Department (ED) face excessive occupational stress due to excessive workloads, administrative tasks, time constraints, tense relationships and interprofessional conflicts, the numerical inadequacy of colleagues, exhausting shifts, and suffering and caring for patients with life-threatening illnesses.

Witnessing aggression, violence or the death of patients or participating in resuscitation can also be emotionally and physically demanding.

How do I get my CPN?

To become a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN), you must meet the eligibility requirements set by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB).

These requirements include having a current, valid, and unrestricted RN license in the U.S., Canada, or territory and a minimum of 1800 hours of pediatric clinical experience completed within the past 24 months as an RN.

Once you meet these requirements, you can apply to take the CPN exam. The PNCB provides a step-by-step guide on its website to help you through the process.

What is a CPEN degree?

CPEN is not a degree but rather a certification. CPEN stands for Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse. The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) offers a certification to recognize the knowledge and expertise of nurses who provide emergency care to pediatric patients.

To be eligible to sit for the CPEN exam, you must have a current, unrestricted RN license and meet other professional and legal requirements set by BCEN. You can learn more about the eligibility requirements and the certification process on the BCEN website.

Who are the highest paid pediatric nurses?

The highest-paying pediatric nursing specialties include Pediatric Pulmonologist, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Pediatric Oncologist, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) Nursing, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Physical Therapist, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, and Pediatric Radiologist.

What is the highest paid pediatric field?

The highest-paying pediatric specialties include Pediatric Cardiology, Pediatric Endocrinology, Pediatric Gastroenterology, Pediatric Neurology, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Pediatric Pulmonology, Pediatric Nephrology, and Pediatric Infectious Disease.

These specialists often require additional education and training beyond traditional medical school and typically earn higher salaries than other pediatric professionals.

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