5 Careers in Children’s Hospitals

If you’ve always wanted to wear pediatric scrubs and work in a children’s hospital, here’s some good news: There are many careers available in pediatric medical fields. We highlight five specific careers in children’s hospitals below and also discuss other opportunities for working in pediatrics.

Pediatric Physician

Pediatric physicians specialize in treating child patients from birth through the age of 21, giving them the perfect excuse to wear awesome Disney scrubs. To become a pediatrician, you must graduate from college and then attend medical school. You’ll then apply to be matched with a pediatric residency program, which takes three years to complete. After procuring the necessary state and federal licenses, you’ll officially be cleared to practice as a pediatric physician. Some pediatric physicians go on to earn additional certifications in various subspecialties, including adolescent medicine, pediatric emergency medicine, and neonatal-perinatal medicine. (The American Board of Pediatrics offers a complete list of subspecialties here.) Pediatric physicians who pursue a subspeciality are generally better paid than those who continue to practice general pediatric medicine.

Pediatric Nurse

Pediatric nurses perform many of the same duties as general registered nurses, including recording patient health histories, conducting routine examinations, administering vaccinations, ordering and interpreting laboratory tests, and more. To become a pediatric nurse, you must first earn either a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) and become licensed as a registered nurse. Then you must work for several years to get enough on-the-job experience to study for and pass the National Certification Examination for Certified Pediatric Nurse, which makes you an official pediatric nurse. You can pursue a specialty in neonatal nursing instead if you’d like to work with the youngest of patients.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

If you’re ready to take your nursing career a step further, you can become a pediatric nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners have additional responsibilities and operate under more autonomy. In many states, they can diagnose illnesses and prescribe medications, similar to doctors. To become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, you must follow the steps above to become a pediatric nurse. Once you have obtained enough experience, you can earn either an MSN with a Nurse Practitioner track or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Becoming a Nurse Practitioner is certainly a commitment, but it’s a great way to expand your responsibility and your earning potential.

Child Psychologist

Child psychologists examine, diagnose, and treat children and adolescents for mental health conditions and development issues. They may work with patients from a young child struggling with attention deficit disorder to a teen grieving the unexpected death of a parent. While some child psychology jobs only require a master’s degree, most ask for either a Ph.D. or PsyD degree in clinical psychology, counseling psychology, or child psychology. After earning their degree, child psychologists must complete a supervised clinical internship, which typically lasts two years, and then pass state and federal tests in order to obtain a license to practice. There are several different specialties available for child psychologists, including abnormal child psychology and developmental psychology.

Physical Therapists

Pediatric physical therapists help children and adolescents who are experiencing developmental delays, coping with neuromuscular conditions, and recovering from sports injuries or surgery. They work with children to promote movement, prevent disability, and reduce pain through a series of exercises that are designed to improve balance, coordination, strength, flexibility, and endurance. Physical therapists must earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field (such as anatomy) then enroll in an accredited Doctorate of Physical Therapy program. After graduating, they must complete at least one supervised internship under the guidance of a clinician. They can also choose to complete an additional post-professional clinical residency in pediatric physical therapy. Finally, they must pass all necessary state and federal tests to obtain their license.

It’s important to keep in mind that most children’s hospitals hire for all other typical hospital roles, from anesthesiologists to ultrasound techs. If you already work in healthcare and want to make the switch to pediatrics, see if any of the children’s hospitals in your area are hiring. You can also pursue a pediatric medical career that will take you outside the hospital environment, including pediatric dentistry and pediatric ophthalmology.

It’s important to keep in mind that most children’s hospitals hire for all other typical hospital roles, from anesthesiologists to ultrasound techs. If you already work in healthcare and want to make the switch to pediatrics, see if any of the children’s hospitals in your area are hiring. You can also pursue a pediatric medical career that will take you outside the hospital environment, including pediatric dentistry and pediatric ophthalmology.

If your hope is to work in a children’s hospital, odds are there’s a perfect career out there for you. Get your pediatric stethoscope ready and prepare to launch your pediatric medical career with one of these five jobs.

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