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Career profile: Children's nurse

Career profile: Children's nurseGet the lowdown on what the job involves, what qualifications you need and how long it takes to train.

A what?

Children's nurses care for sick children and provide support for their families.

On the job

Children's nursing can take you from intensive care of a new-born baby with breathing problems to looking after a six-foot-tall adolescent whose leg has been broken in a soccer match.

The reason you're there as a children's nurse is because children are not just mini-adults: their bodies (and minds) work in different ways. The onset of symptoms can be sudden and extreme. Because children are still growing, the impact of the illness or injury on their development has to be taken into account. And because they are young, they may be more scared or confused by what is happening to them. That's why they require nurses who understand their particular needs.

Children have parents and brothers and sisters who are all involved in different ways. Children's nurses work closely with patients' families as part of the caring process. Children's nursing can sometimes involve managing distress. A rich mix of emotions often surrounds child illness such as panic, anxiety, anger, powerlessness and guilt. You'll play a key part in helping families come through their crises.

Course entry requirements

To work in the NHS, nurses must hold a degree in nursing, which leads to registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), enabling them to practice as a nurse.

Entry requirements vary depending on the course and the institution, so check before applying. You will usually need around five GCSEs plus two A-levels (or Highers) for a degree programme.

What does the training involve?

Degree courses last three or four years, and lead to a BSc in Nursing.

All nursing degrees consist of common foundation programmes (CFP) usually for one year on full-time courses, before specialisation in the next two or three years of the course.

Part-time courses are provided by some universities and normally last for five or six years. They are available to staff working in the NHS – usually as an assistant or an associate practitioner with qualifications up to NVQ level 3 (or equivalent).

Related links

(Information taken from NHS Careers)