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How to Become a Paediatric Nurse in Australia

Becoming a Registered Nurse (Paediatrics) may be easier than you think.

Hospital staff attending to girl in wheelchair


Becoming a paediatric nurse in Australia is straightforward. First, you need to qualify as a registered nurse and then begin working in a child health environment. With experience, you can start identifying as a registered nurse (paediatrics).

Paediatric nursing care is primarily delivered in hospitals, specialised children's wards, outpatient clinics, and community health centres. These settings offer numerous opportunities for RNs to provide specialised care to children and adolescents.

Regarding your career journey, working with babies, children, and/or teenagers could be just the beginning. You can advance to more specialised roles, such as Clinical Nurse Specialist, through targeted postgraduate study.

Steps to Become a Paediatric Nurse

In a few steps, which include getting a nursing degree, you can be considered a paediatric nurse specialist. With experience and further study, you will be positioned for advanced roles in this field.

1. Complete a nursing degree

Qualifying to be a nurse requires that you complete a 3-year Bachelor of Nursing degree. If you already have a degree in another field, you can instead do a 2-year Master of Nursing Practice.

2. Register as a nurse with the NMBA

Apply to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) to practise as a Registered Nurse (RN). Beyond holding a recognised degree, you'll need to fulfill requirements like criminal history checks and demonstrate English language proficiency.

3. Gain experience in paediatric nursing

Seek positions in paediatric departments, children's hospitals, or community health settings where you can gain hands-on experience caring for children and adolescents. This practical experience enables you to develop specialised skills and identify as a paediatric nurse.

4. Study for a postgraduate qualification

An important part of furthering your career as a nurse is postgraduate study. For paediatrics, consider a Graduate Certificate in Paediatric Nursing. This is a relatively short, four-subject course. You can also continue studying for a graduate diploma and master's degree.

5. Specialise in a specific area

Paediatric nursing offers specialisations such as neonatal care, intensive care, oncology, and emergency nursing. Consider which area aligns with your interests and career goals. Specialising may involve additional training and certification.

6. Apply for advanced roles

With relevant experience and postgraduate qualifications, you can apply for positions above the level of registered nurses. Depending on the state or territory, you may apply to be a clinical nurse, clinical nurse specialist, or RN Level 2. More advanced jobs include clinical nurse consultant, clinical nurse educator, and nurse unit manager. With a Master of Nurse Practitioner, you could even become a Paediatrics Nurse Practitioner.

Related: Postgraduate Courses for Nurses

What the Job Involves

Healthcare professional listening to baby's heart with stethoscope

As a paediatric nurse in Australia, your job is to provide nursing care to infants, children, and adolescents. While nurses in this field perform many of the same duties as other nurses, certain tasks are particularly distinct. These include:

  1. Developmental screening. Monitor and assess the growth and development of young patients.
  2. Vaccinations. Administer immunisations and educate parents about vaccination schedules.
  3. Family education and support. Guide families in understanding their child’s health conditions and care needs.
  4. Specialised medical care for chronic conditions. Manage and monitor conditions like asthma or diabetes, which are common in children.
  5. Emotional and mental health support. Address the psychological needs of young patients, especially those with behavioural or psychological conditions.
  6. Child advocacy. Ensure that the healthcare needs and rights of young patients are met and advocate for their best interests.
  7. Emergency care for children. Provide specialised emergency care, including managing acute conditions and injuries typical in children.
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Lauren, RN

As a nurse at Sydney Children's Hospital, Lauren and her team look after orthopedics or broken bones, as well as neurosurgery and neurological disorders. She explains her approach with children, saying, "I think you just learn different techniques in how to read a child, and you know what they want. I think you really form a relationship with people because they're often here for extended periods of time."

To be effective in paediatric nursing, you should have strong communication skills to interact with children and their families. Paediatric nurses also need empathy to understand and respond to the emotional needs of young patients. Clinical competence in child-specific health conditions is essential, as well as creativity in engaging children during medical procedures.

Related: What Is a Registered Nurse in Australia?