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Pediatric Nurse vs. Neonatal Nurse: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Pediatric nurses and neonatal nurses are two types of nurses that specialize in caring for young patients. Both roles are important in providing quality care for infants, children and adolescents. However, there are some key differences between the two positions. In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences between pediatric and neonatal nursing, and we offer tips for choosing the right type of nursing for you.

What is a Pediatric Nurse?

Pediatric Nurses care for infants, children and adolescents up to the age of 21 who are suffering from a wide variety of acute and chronic health conditions. They work in hospitals, clinics and private practices, providing direct patient care, conducting health assessments and administering medication. They also educate patients and their families on how to manage their conditions, prevent further illness and promote overall wellness. Pediatric Nurses collaborate with a team of doctors, specialists and other health care professionals to develop individualized care plans for each patient.

What is a Neonatal Nurse?

Neonatal Nurses are RNs that provide care for newborn infants up to 28 days old that are born prematurely, have birth defects, or are sick. They work in hospitals in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and provide around-the-clock care. Neonatal Nurses work closely with the baby’s parents to ensure they are informed and comfortable with their child’s care plan. They also work with a team of doctors and other specialists to provide the best possible care for the infant.

Pediatric Nurse vs. Neonatal Nurse

Here are the main differences between a pediatric nurse and a neonatal nurse.

Job Duties

Pediatric and neonatal nurses share many of the same job duties. These include taking medical histories, recording vital signs, performing physical examinations, administering medications and providing emotional support to patients and their families. The major difference between the two specialties is that pediatric nurses care for children who are growing and developing normally, while neonatal nurses treat infants who may be premature or have other health issues that require specialized care.

This means that neonatal nurses spend more time performing nursing interventions like intubation, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), phototherapy and tube feeding than pediatric nurses do. They also tend to work in specialty units like neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and typically have more experience with high-risk patient situations. Pediatric nurses may perform some of these procedures as well, but they usually do so less frequently than neonatal nurses.

Job Requirements

To become a pediatric nurse, you need to first earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and obtain licensure as a registered nurse (RN). You can then pursue a specialization in pediatrics through a graduate program or continuing education courses. Some employers may require pediatric nurses to have a master’s degree in nursing.

Neonatal nurses must also earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and obtain RN licensure. They can then specialize in neonatal care through a graduate program or continuing education courses. Many neonatal nurses choose to earn a Master of Science in Nursing with a focus on neonatal care.

Work Environment

Pediatric nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices and schools. Neonatal nurses typically work in hospitals or birthing centers. Pediatric nurses may also work with families to help them care for their children at home. Neonatal nurses often work long hours, especially during the night and on weekends.


Both pediatric nurses and neonatal nurses provide care for patients who are children or infants. However, their specific duties can differ based on the age of the patient population they work with and the type of facility in which they work.

Pediatric nurses typically work with patients who are between the ages of newborn and 18 years old. They may work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, clinics or private practices. Neonatal nurses usually work in hospital units that care for premature or sick newborns. These nurses often have more experience caring for critically ill patients than pediatric nurses.

Both types of nurses need to have excellent communication skills to interact with patients and their families. They also need to be able to effectively collaborate with other members of the healthcare team. In addition, both pediatric nurses and neonatal nurses need to have strong critical thinking skills to quickly assess patients and make decisions about their care.


Pediatric nurses earn an average salary of $70,017 per year, while neonatal nurses earn an average salary of $81,653 per year. Both of these salaries may vary depending on the location of the job, the size of the hospital or healthcare facility, the nurses level of education and their years of experience.


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