As a pediatric nurse, you'll learn a great deal in school and during training. But while the job is extremely rewarding, it also poses unique challenges that you'll need to be ready to handle, so it helps to be prepared.
The following are seven things you need to know before becoming a pediatric nurse:
Children aren't little adults
Children are not only different physiologically, but also developmentally, Ruby Jason, division director for women and children at Oregon Health Sciences University and Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, told TravelNursing.com. They view things based on their developmental state, so they may not understand that a finger cut won't lead to bleeding out, for example. Children can also have separation anxiety if they're in the hospital and their parents have to leave temporarily.
You'll need to maintain a professional distance
Maintaining a professional distance is important for any type of nurse, since some patients won't have the best outcome. But this can be even harder to do when you're working with children. Some patients may die, while others may have troublesome family situations, and this can often be tough for caring nurses to handle.
Easing parents' minds can be challenging
Pediatric nurse Madelaine Than told the blog aftercollege that the biggest challenge of her job is talking with highly anxious parents. It can be difficult to ease some parents' minds and the best way to handle this situation is to keep calm and show sympathy and understanding.
Positive energy is essential
Even very young children can read your energy, Kimberly Appelbaum, a pediatric nurse at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, told Johnson & Johnson Nursing. They're good at picking up your mood and can tell by looking at your face if you're impatient, annoyed or stressed. Make sure you're putting out positive energy so your young patients feel reassured and as comfortable as possible in what can be a strange and scary environment.
You'll need to be able to customize care for a wide range of patients
Even though you're caring for patients who are younger, they'll still have a broader range than you may expect, Wolters Kluwer pointed out at Calling the Shots. You'll see everyone from an infant with RSV to an older teen who may have a concussion, so you'll have to know how to care for a broad range of patients and their needs.
Good communication with patients and parents is key
Since you'll have some younger patients who may be nervous and can have trouble articulating exactly what's wrong, you'll need to be highly skilled in communication, according to NurseChoice. The child's parent or caregiver is also another point of contact and you'll need to establish a good rapport with him or her and be able to easily give and receive information about the child's condition.
You'll have to be willing (and able) to take care of yourself
Nursing can take a toll on your overall wellness, since you may work long, stressful hours. Working with children can be especially stressful since it can be tough to see children in pain or other distress. Pediatric nurses who work care for critically ill children are under even more stress, which can lead to compassion fatigue and burnout. Taking care of yourself by seeking support and pursuing a variety of wellness activities is vital to your own health as well as that of your patients.