If a career in pediatric nursing interests you, now is a good time to explore this option.
As Pediatric Nurses Week wraps up, there’s reflection on how this field impacts the youngest patients and their families. If you are a dedicated lifelong learner, pediatric nursing is an excellent specialty. The advances in childhood diseases—from childhood cancer to flu responses in children—are rapid and ever changing.
As a nurse who works in pediatrics, you’ll need to be on top of all these developments so you know the latest information to help your patients. And because families have such frequent interaction with pediatric nurses, you’re also seen as a reliable and important resource for questions about the smallest diaper rash to the most severe injury or illness.
The Society of Pediatric Nurses offers information about the career for those who have been in practice for decades and for those who are just considering the path. The Institute of Pediatric Nursing, “an estimated 180,521 RNs provide patient care in a hospital setting to a pediatric population, including newborn, neonatal, pediatric, and adolescent.”
These nurses provide care in various settings that might include physicians’ offices, hospitals, home care, schools, outpatient, and ambulatory care settings. With each setting comes a different set of responsibilities and levels of interaction. Where some offices might provide more routine well-child care others, like school nurses, will have a different kind of care routine.
As a pediatric nurse, you’ll be a registered nurse, but can also continue on to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. Certification is, as always, an important option to consider in this career, just to keep up with all the developments in newborn to adolescent health. The credential is a Pediatric Nursing Certification (RN-BC).
As the populations in the country continue to change, minority pediatric nurses are an essential component in the health of children. Whether in a rural or urban setting, nurses that look like the children and families in their patient population, speak their language, and know their culture, beliefs, and traditions (especially those surrounding health and medical care) will have a positive impact on understanding and follow up care.
As more minority nurses continue on to earn a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, the opportunities for having a greater impact on patient populations and the nursing industry as a whole is more significant. Nurses are excellent gauges of shifting health issues within their patient populations and can help advance critical early notifications of anything from vaccine compliance of newborns to vaping use in adolescence.
If a pediatric nursing career interests you, your advisor is a first stop for information. If you’re already a pediatric nurse, take some time to reflect on the patients and families you have made an impact on.
Today marks an important milestone for emergency nurses across the country—the 30th anniversary of a national Emergency Nurses Day. The day falls in the middle of national Emergency Nurses Week which runs October 6-12 this year.
The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) started the tradition back in 1989, long before many of the medical advances in emergency medicine that we take for granted today. But a few things haven’t changed in 30 years. Emergency nurses’ dedication to high-quality patient care in a turbulent, fast-paced, and unpredictable environment remains the foundation of an emergency department’s success.
ED nurses are the ones patients see when they are least expecting it. A trip to the ED is often the most unplanned healthcare situation and is scary for many patients. Emergency nurses use all their nursing skills to assess, diagnose, and care for people who could be in their care for anything from severe trauma from an accident to an injury from a fall to trouble breathing from flu symptoms. They must assess quickly and accurately patients of all ages, demographics, and even those who may be unable to communicate what’s wrong. The pace is rapid and constant.
According to the ENA website, 43,000 members of the association are vocal advocates for emergency department care. They are trained in “triage, patient care, disaster preparedness, and all aspects of emergency care.” Emergency nurses are RNs and they can also obtain credentials as an emergency nurse practitioner certification (ENP-BC). The American Academy of Emergency Nurse Practitioners also offers excellent resources for nursing students or anyone interested in this career path.
Emergency nurses care for patients in their care, but what they do has wide impact. They are also persistent advocates for policies that will protect their patients and also protect those in the profession. In a time when workplace violence against nurses is rising and adding another level of complexity to being an ED nurse, policies and protections are essential to letting nurses continue to offer the level of care their patients need while keeping themselves safe from harm.
Because of the higher levels of stress and the endless trauma they deal with, ED nurses are at particular risk for burnout, stress, and even symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Healthcare organizations that promote wellness and self-care and that make mental health care a priority for nurses in workplaces that routinely deal with trauma cases will build a healthier nursing staff.
But ED nurses also take great satisfaction from being able to help ill or injured patients and offer resources and comfort to their families. They keep their entire suite of nursing skills in use throughout each shift, because they never know what each day will bring. To say the job is never dull is an understatement.
So for all the emergency nurses, this week it’s all about you and all you do to help patients get through their medical emergency and for the ways you offer support to your colleagues in the ED.
As a minority nurse, you know diversity and inclusion means much more than what the people in your organization look like and where they have come from.
Diversity and inclusion is absolutely focused on creating a nursing workforce that more closely mirrors the different populations in a given area. But diversity and inclusion also means more because the culture of a workplace needs to feel comfortable to the people who work there.
If you’re a nursing leader you hold a responsibility for hiring the right people, and also for creating an environment where employees feel like they can be their authentic selves. When employees feel like they are able to bring the things that make them different to work—whether that’s their affinity for studying languages or for making cat toys for shelters or for four-wheeling in their spare time—it’s up to the organization to honor what they bring to your organization.
The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) offers resources for making sure your workplace is not just diverse on the surface, but also goes deeper to be welcoming to employees.
What can you do to make sure your working environment is inclusive to all your employees?
Find the Right People
Make hiring high-quality workers who are similar to the populations you serve a priority. The more diversity you have, the more perspectives you’ll have. That only results in better care for your patients.
Understand the Concerns
Assess the culture of your workplace with open forums and anonymous comment boxes and bring your talent management team in on the results. Ask your employees for feedback about what feels right and what makes the workplace uncomfortable or unproductive for them.
Listen and Respond
Your team wants to be heard. They have voices and experiences that can make your unit stronger, more efficient, more effective, and more in tune to the needs of your patients. Make sure what they say matters, so listen to their concerns and work with them to develop meaningful solutions.
Keep It in the Open
Whatever changes you make probably won’t make everyone happy, but they should address an identified problem that will move your organization toward its goal of inclusivity. Each solution might look different. Sometimes, education about how different cultures make healthcare decisions will dispel misunderstandings. Sometimes it might be a direct policy that will address blatant mircroaggressions against people on your team. Many times, it is an open and honest celebration of they differences among your team members that will make them feel like they have found a place where they can flourish.
Look at the Outcome
In the end, a diverse workforce is essential and will meet many or your organization’s goals. But being an inclusive team is what makes employees committed to where they work and focused on the job at hand.
The outcome is better patient care, longer employee retention, an increased reputation as a fair employer in the community and the industry, and nurses who become ambassadors for your organization.
If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.
Suicide is one of the most pressing health issues in the country today, but it’s also one many people are reluctant to discuss openly. With September designated as National Suicide Prevention Month, this is a great opportunity to help shed the stigma around suicide.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) one in five adults will experience a form of mental illness this year. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the 47,173 suicides in 2017 makes suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the nation. But the problem is even more pervasive than even those alarming numbers. NIMH reported that in 2017, 10.6 million adults aged 18 or older reported having serious thoughts about trying to kill themselves.
Those numbers are staggering and reveal a deep level of anguish among the people in this country. Many of those people do not get any kind of professional help and many don’t even tell another person they have had thoughts of harming themselves. That’s why it’s so important for others to recognize, and act on, signs of trouble.
How You Can Help
As a nurse, you have a level of interaction with so many different people every day, so noticing subtle signs is important. It’s essential to know the warning signs of someone in crisis.
Depending on your specialty and your typical workday, your nursing career might not bring people in obvious mental health crisis into your day. That doesn’t mean your patients aren’t struggling. Friends and family might also be hiding their serious despair, so knowing what to look for and how to listen and interpret is helpful.
Suicide Awareness Voices for Education offers the following behaviors as warning signs that someone is in danger and needs help:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
- Looking for a way to kill oneself
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
- Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings
If you notice something is worrisome, for instance a friend’s social media posts have started to mention that “the world would be better off without me” or a struggling colleague’s behavior with drugs or alcohol is increasingly reckless, it’s okay to ask about it.
It’s Okay to Say Something
Saying something in a nonjudgmental way is best and helping that person find a professional to talk to is going to be helpful. Call a crisis line for immediate help or bring them to the ER, especially if you think they are in imminent danger of hurting themselves. It’s also probably going to be awkward and may not be met with affection, but generally those behaviors are the way someone might ask for help without really asking for help.
In your workplace, see if you’re able to post crisis hotline numbers, so others can have immediate access to the information—either for themselves, their patients, or someone they are concerned about.
Nurses have enormous impact on lives and in ways they can probably never imagine. Although neonatal nurses care for newborns and infants, their lasting impact is often remembered over decades.
Today is National Neonatal Nurses Day and the end of National Neonatal Nurses Week, and is a tribute to the ways these nurses change the lives of the tiniest patients. But it’s not just the babies these nurses save—the families of those babies never forget the nurses who cared for their children when they were at their most vulnerable.
If you’re a neonatal nurse, today’s a good day to reflect on how your efforts have a ripple effect. As you care for your patients, think of all the families you have worked with and helped over your career. Then think of all the people who loved those babies as that child grew to a toddler, teenager, or adult and went out into the world.
If that’s an emotional thought, that’s the reason why neonatal nurses are so passionate about and committed to the sometimes joyous sometimes heartbreaking work they do. They care for the newborns who need medical care for a range of medical issues. Their life-saving work is generally done in neonatal intensive care units (NICU), but they may also work in varied level nurseries. Some of these nurses will also make home visits and work in the community to care for sick infants. The infants can range from the tiniest premature baby to a full-term baby born with a critical illness.
If you are interested in a career in this nursing specialty, the National Association of Neonatal Nurses is an excellent resource. Nurses can work as a registered nurse or as a neonatal nurse practitioner. Your educational path will include a master’s degree and potentially a PhD if you want to work as a neonatal nurse practitioner, while a bachelor’s if often sufficient as a registered nurse level. Responsibilities increase between the registered nurse and nurse practitioner levels, as do salary rates.
Neonatal nurses are expected to have a high level of technical competency, and they must remain up-to-date on the constant advances in the field. Certification, as with any nursing field, is always recommended. Certification gives you the advantage of keeping your skills and your knowledge current. The American Assocation of Critical Care Nurses offers three separate certifications for neonatal nurses: CCRN (Neonatal), Acute/Critical Care Nursing; CCRN-K (Neonatal) Acute/Critical Care Knowledge Professional; ACCNS-N (Neonatal), CNS Wellness through Acute Care. There’s no shortage of the ways you can continue your professional and academic path after you earn your degree.
Nurses in this specialty must also have a level of empathy and compassion to care for the tiny babies and the people who love them. You are, in essence, treating the entire family. Helping them navigate the scary ups and downs of daily life in the NICU isn’t easy and is sometimes distracting, but families look to neonatal nurses to guide them. The bond many nurses develop with the families they work with are often strong and lasting. Some of the biggest rewards are hearing back from families years later of the positive effect you had in their lives.