Pediatric nurses attend to young individuals, including toddlers and adolescents, throughout their careers. It’s no news that it requires patience, among other skills, to interact and care for these patients. These professionals are a vital link between complex medical procedures and a child’s understanding.

Hence, mastering and becoming a ‘natural’ at their role makes pediatric nurses efficient professionals. Nurses can refine their skills by enrolling in Walsh University’s Online Master’s in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner Program. This 100% online program provides nursing professionals with the skills for leadership and the necessary knowledge to improve their skills.

This article will discuss a number of must-have skills for pediatric nurses, and why these skills are vital for providing optimal healthcare.

Essential skills that every pediatric nurse must have

Children require specialized care, and this makes pediatric nursing a unique field. Pediatric nurses starting their nursing careers need the following skills to be successful in their roles.

Child development knowledge 

Child development knowledge is about understanding children’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive growth stages from infancy to adolescence. The way that children show signs of discomfort varies, depending on their development stages. For instance, a toddler’s manifestation of pain will differ from how an adolescent will express the same pain. Knowing and understanding these stages can help nurses accurately interpret these signs and symptoms.

The advantages of having child development knowledge are numerous. First, it encourages early intervention. Nurses who know the milestones for different age groups can identify developmental delays or abnormalities earlier. If a two-year-old child is unable to form basic sentences or follow simple commands during a routine check-up, a pediatric nurse familiar with developmental milestones would recognize this as a potential delay. The nurse could then refer the child to specialists for early intervention, thus improving the chances of better outcomes.

Child development knowledge informs customized care plans. Nurses should know the appropriate interventions for different age groups of pediatric patients in order to treat them more effectively. It can also minimize trauma. For instance, a distraction technique for a two-year-old child about to be injected may not work on a seven-year-old.

Effective communication skills

Unlike adults, children have varying developmental capacities to understand and express themselves. Nurses must use age-appropriate language, depending on the age of their patient. For example, you may use simple words such as ‘boo boo’ or ‘owie’ to describe an injection pain to a toddler, but you would need to be more detailed when talking to adolescents.

Another way to communicate is through nonverbal clues, especially for patients who may not have the verbal skills to express themselves. A child’s facial expression and gestures can reveal their condition or emotional state. When dealing with adolescents, you can couple nonverbal clues with active listening to understand the medical and psychological aspects of their health.

Nurses can also implement various engagement techniques to capture a child’s attention. For younger children, nurses could tell stories or use toys to explain a medical procedure. Adolescents may appreciate straightforward explanations and even want a say in their healthcare decisions. The whole premise of communication in pediatric nursing is to help nurses better understand their patients.

Strong interpersonal skills 

A good nurse training institution, will ensure that their student’s interpersonal skills are valued and trained alongside their medical knowledge. Having a good ‘bedside manner’ is crucial for every pediatric nurse to master as it allows them to develop strong working relationships with their colleagues and patients. Well established and reputable educational institutions such as Walsh University provide ample opportunity for their students to develop these skills because their faculty have a deep understanding of the importance of strong interpersonal skills.

Being able to work closely with fellow nurses, pediatricians, specialists, and support staff in a personable and efficient manner is paramount to a healthcare workers role as these relationships directly impact the quality of care provided to young patients and their families.

A strong nursing team not only enhances the efficiency of healthcare delivery but also creates a supportive environment where knowledge sharing, skill development, and emotional resilience flourish. It’s through teamwork that pediatric nurses can address the unique challenges of pediatric care, from handling delicate medical procedures to comforting anxious young patients. Ultimately, the ability to build and nurture a cohesive nursing team is an indispensable skill that elevates the level of care provided in pediatric healthcare settings.

Observation and critical thinking 

Observation and critical thinking are two skills that pediatric nurses depend on as they primarily work with toddlers who can’t express themselves well. Nurses can glean valuable insights that can inform their diagnosis and treatment plans by observing a child’s appearance and interactions. On the other hand, critical thinking helps these professionals process what they observe.

For example, consider a case where a pediatric nurse is attending to a two-year-old child brought in with a persistent fever. The child is irritable, tugging at their ear and showing discomfort when lying down, but is not verbal enough to explain what’s hurting. An observational nurse may notice these subtle clues and suspect a possible ear infection.

Critical thinking is employed when this nurse must decide whether to wait for diagnostic tests or to initiate symptomatic treatment immediately. To decide, the nurse may consider the severity of the symptoms or consult with a physician for immediate intervention while also arranging for diagnostic tests on the side. This quick thinking could relieve the child’s discomfort sooner and prevent further complications.

Nurses can hone these two vital skills through formal education and practical experiences. They may also go through simulation exercises to test their skills on dummies. Another effective way to improve your observation and critical thinking skills is to reflect on the decisions you made post-intervention.

Confidentiality and ethics

Parents who come in with a sick child are often out of their wits and may divulge more information than is asked for. These parents trust nurses to keep the sensitive information they have shared about their children private. This is how confidentiality fosters open communication.

Patients and their families will most likely share sensitive information if they know that nurses won’t disclose it improperly. This is especially crucial in pediatric settings where parents or guardians are often the ones communicating with healthcare providers. For instance, if a parent confides in a nurse about their child’s behavioral issues at home, others shouldn’t learn about this information without their consent.

However, there are cases where nurses may face ethical dilemmas. Ethics provide the framework for moral decision-making. Pediatric nurses often face ethical dilemmas, such as the issues of informed consent and child assent. For instance, a nurse who suspects potential child abuse in the case of a child who allegedly rolled down the stairs may need to report their suspicions to the appropriate authorities.

Medication administration

Administering medication to pediatric patients requires the utmost precision and attention to detail. Pediatric patients have unique medication dosages. The dosage you’ll give a two-year-old won’t be the same as the dosage you’ll give to a 10-year-old patient with the same condition. Besides age, nurses must also factor in the child’s weight and development stage.

Another issue is that children usually struggle to comply with medical instructions. Their non-compliance means that nurses must find creative solutions to ensure that they ingest their medication properly. This is particularly crucial for intravenous (IV) medications. Nurses must give the accurate dosage and constantly monitor the patient to observe any adverse reaction to the drug. Hence, every pediatric nurse must have specialized training in pediatric IV administration, including knowledge of proper catheter sizes and insertion techniques.

You can undergo regular training and certification in medication administration to maintain these high standards. Walsh University Online has coursework that educates nursing professionals on pediatric care. The training you take should be theoretical, covering the pharmacological aspects, and practical, which covers the simulation and role-playing exercises. You should also be conversant with the latest medical innovations, such as electronic health records.


Nurses must be able to manage multiple tasks at the same time. Multitasking in pediatrics is particularly complex as nurses must adapt their approach based on their patient’s age and developmental stage. Multitasking in pediatrics may be a nurse educating their patient’s guardian about post-discharge care while monitoring an infant’s feeding schedule and preparing medication for another child.

How do you hone this skill? First, you must learn the art of prioritizing. Nurses must be able to quickly identify which tasks are most urgent and attend to them immediately. You can also set specific goals and allocate designated time slots for the tasks you must complete to improve your multitasking abilities.

Another effective way to improve this skill is through simulation training. These simulations can mimic real-world scenarios where nurses must juggle multiple responsibilities. This provides a safe environment for pediatric nurses to practice and receive feedback without jeopardizing their patients’ health.


Pediatric nurses must have a unique skill set that combines clinical expertise and compassion. These skills are cultivated through continuous practice and real-life experiences. Hence, nurses must continuously update their knowledge through education and practical experience to provide their patients with the best healthcare services.