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You have a passion for pediatric psychology nursing. You leave work every day knowing you made a difference in children’s lives. You have been yearning for something more — a desire to travel somewhere new, experience a different environment, and meet new people.  

That’s where travel nursing comes in. But can you do travel nursing as a pediatric psych nurse?

The short answer is yes! Whether you’re a seasoned pediatric psych nurse intrigued by the travel aspect or new to the field, we’ve got you covered in navigating this exciting career change. In this guide, we’ll discuss what pediatric psych nurses do, work settings, average compensation, the advantages and disadvantages of working as a travel nurse in this specialty,  and more. 

 

Table of Contents

 

 

What Is a Pediatric Psych Travel Nurse?

Pediatric psychiatric nursing is a specialized field requiring specific training to treat children dealing with mental illness. Psychiatric mental health nurses (PMHN) are registered nurses with advanced training, a specialized skill set, and extensive experience in treating children with mental health or substance abuse disorders. There are also nurse practitioners with specialization in pediatric psychiatry who are referred to as PMH-APRNs. 

It’s not an easy job, and it’s not for everyone. But for those with a profound passion for helping children with mental illness, it is an extremely rewarding career. 

Pediatric psych nurses can also take positions as travel nurses, usually in a high-need area. Rather than being employed by the clinic, hospital, or private practice, pediatric psych travel nurses are employed by a staffing agency. Given that psychiatry is rated as one of the top five medical specialties that are underserved, pediatric psych travel nursing emerges as a promising career. 

 

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What Are the Characteristics of a Pediatric Psych Nurse?

It undoubtedly takes a special person to become a pediatric psych nurse. Not only do you need the right personality to work with children, but you also need the specialized skill set to assist individuals with mental health challenges. Key characteristics include: 

  • Patient: Any job working with children requires an extra dose of patience. Exercising patience is needed to navigate the often challenging aspects of mental health. 
  • Empathetic: You need to be able to empathize with your young patient’s situation and acknowledge how they are feeling. 
  • Relational: Being able to build a strong rapport with children is necessary. You need to be able to talk on their level, so your patients can comfortably express their thoughts and feelings. 
  • Communicative: You must be an excellent communicator, as you will be collaborating closely with a care team of other medical professionals. Strong written communication skills are also necessary for documentation purposes.
  • Resilient: This job is not for the faint of heart. Nurse burnout is a risk, and resilience is crucial in navigating the inherent challenges of nursing, especially in mental health care. 
  • Analytical: Critical thinking is a skill you will use often in this career, given the complex nature of mental health problems. 
  • Calm: Maintaining composure is vital, especially when individuals with mental illnesses become upset or have sudden outbursts. 

 

What Are the Duties of a Pediatric Psych Travel Nurse?

As a pediatric psych travel nurse, you can expect to work as a team with other healthcare providers. This includes working with:

  • Psychiatrists
  • Social workers
  • Developmental pediatricians
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Case managers

As a team, you will work to develop and implement a treatment or care plan. Daily tasks, though varying in different settings, may encompass: 

  • Screening patients
  • Conducting psych evaluations
  • Conducting and monitoring treatment sessions
  • Administering medication 
  • Providing education to patients and families
  • Attending case management meetings
  • Engaging in community outreach
  • Implementing crisis intervention strategies

 

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Where Do Pediatric Psych Nurses Work?

Becoming a pediatric psych nurse allows you to work in multiple settings. Each setting offers benefits and challenges, so it is important to think about what setting would serve you best. Some settings may include:

  • Primary care
  • Family practice
  • Developmental clinic 
  • Hospital/Inpatient Setting
  • School-based clinics

Telehealth has seen a huge rise in the last three years. Depending on the setting as a pediatric psych nurse, you may also conduct patient sessions through telehealth platforms. 

 

What Type of Patients Do Pediatric Psych Nurses Work With?

As a pediatric psych nurse, you can expect to work with children of all ages up to young adults receiving help for behavioral health and child development disorders.

Ped psych nurses play a crucial role in collaborating with the families of these children, providing education and support throughout their treatment journey. 

 

How Much Do Pediatric Psych Nurses Make?

The average hourly income of pediatric psych travel nurses is subject to variation and influenced by factors such as:

  • Geography
  • Medical setting
  • Experience
  • Travel nursing agency you work with

On average, pediatric psych nurses can earn around $42 an hour

 

Top 10 Highest Paying Cities for Pediatric Psych Nurses

As mentioned, geography can certainly influence the hourly wage pediatric psych nurses earn. According to ZipRecuriter, here at the top ten highest paying cities for pediatric psych nurses based on weekly pay:

  1. Berkeley, CA
  2. San Buenaventura, CA
  3. New York City, NY
  4. Renton, WA
  5. Santa Monica, CA
  6. Bend, OR
  7. Daly City, CA
  8. Bailey’s Crossroads, VA
  9. Boston, MA
  10. Wausau, WI

 

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Requirements To Become a Pediatric Psych Travel Nurse

 

Educational

You likely already have completed this step if you are reading this, but to become a nurse, you must either have a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) or have an Associate Degree in Nursing (ASN). After completion of coursework, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to earn your RN license. 

If you are interested in becoming a PMH-APRN, you must earn a graduate degree in either:

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DPN)

 

Licensure

While there is no specific licensure requirement to become a PMH-RN other than state licensure requirements, you can obtain licensure at the APRN level. 

There are two different licensure options for PMH-APRNs:

  • ​​Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
  • ​​Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (PMHCNS)

Regardless of which licensing path you take, both options will require the same clinical knowledge.

 

Certifications

If you want to take your nursing skills to the next level, you can become board certified with a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Certification (PMH-BCTM). You must take a certification examination. Once awarded, the certification is valid for five years. 

 

Experience and Skills

The general rule of thumb is that you’ll need 1-2 years of nursing under your belt. You may need more experience if you’re going to be a specialty travel RN like a pediatric psych travel nurse.

As you work towards this goal of becoming a travel pediatric psych nurse, you can concentrate on honing the following skills:  

  • Experience with administering assessments 
  • Knowledge of child and adolescent development
  • Clinical skills of psychotherapeutic treatments
  • Ability to facilitate coordination among the clinical care team
  • Proficiency of pharmacology and understanding of drug side effects, particularly medications for the treatment of psychiatric disorders

 

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The Pros and Cons of Being a Pediatric Psych Travel Nurse

Embarking on a career as a pediatric psych travel nurse brings exciting opportunities and benefits but also comes with challenges. Let’s explore the positive aspects of this profession along with potential drawbacks. 

 

Pros of Pediatric Psych Travel Nursing

  1. Positive job outlook: The field of nursing, in general, is expected to grow at 6% from 2022 to 2032, which is a faster growth rate than average for all occupations. This trend is further fueled by the ongoing nursing shortage, as retiring nurses create job opportunities and increase demand across various specialties. 
  2. Competitive salary: Pediatric psych nurses have a competitive salary, reflecting the demand for their specialized skills. Travel nursing also tends to pay at a higher rate.  
  3. Work-life balance: Depending on the setting, pediatric psych travel nurses can benefit from favorable hours and flexibility, promoting a healthy work-life balance. The travel aspect adds an exciting dimension, allowing travel nurses to explore and enjoy different parts of the country.  
  4. Fulfilling career: While it is an undoubtedly difficult career, working as a pediatric psych travel nurse is exceptionally fulfilling as you are making a profound impact in the lives of children. Travel nursing in general reports high job satisfaction.

 

Cons of Pediatric Psych Travel Nursing

  1. Risk of nurse burnout: Burnout is a prevalent challenge in healthcare, amplified after COVID-19. Alarmingly, 91.1% of nurses reported high levels of burnout, exceeding rates in other healthcare workers at nearly 80%. 
  2. Variable work schedule: Depending on the setting, work hours and holiday schedules can impact your work-life balance and personal commitments. This is mainly seen in the hospital setting. Consider looking into private practice for more traditional hours. 
  3. Reluctance to treatment: Unfortunately, individuals with mental health challenges may exhibit a reluctance or resistance to treatment. Families also may not readily recognize their child’s problems or may be resistant to pursue treatment. These dynamics can be challenging for nurses to navigate. 
  4. Constant adjustment to new environments: In general, travel nursing requires adaptation to new settings, healthcare systems, and team dynamics. This can be challenging despite all the benefits travel nursing offers. 

 

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Find Your Career as a Pediatric Psych Travel Nurse With Help From Trusted Nurse Staffing

If you are intrigued by the prospect of becoming a pediatric psych travel nurse, we’re here to guide you on this fulfilling career journey. Pediatric psych nursing becomes even more exciting when you embark on travel assignments, explore new places and make a difference in diverse healthcare settings.

Trusted Nurse Staffing stands as a dedicated agency committed to placing nurses in travel assignments. Rely on us to navigate the landscape and discover the best-fit assignments tailored to your aspirations.

When you choose Trusted Nurse Staffing, your contribution as a pediatric psych nurse is deeply valued. From the commencement of your contract, we prioritize your well-being with a range of benefits including:

  • Retirement and insurance plans
  • Reimbursement for certification, license, and CEU
  • Stipends for housing, meals, and travel
  • Bonus opportunities, including sign-on, completion, and referral bonuses

Moreover, you have a personal support team available 24/7. Unlike automated messages, we provide real-live human assistance, ensuring you have the support you need throughout your contract. 

Find your next pediatric psych travel nurse assignment through Pronto, the innovative job matching platform for nurses ready to take on a travel assignment.