Pediatric nurses serve as a voice for patients who may not have one or who may have no reference for the words they need to say. As their advocate, you become their nurse and their voice.

For that reason and for so many other reasons, this week’s Pediatric Nurses Week, sponsored by the Society of Pediatric Nurses, is so important.

From October 1 to 5, pediatric nurses are honored for the work they do with the children in their care. This is also a time to recognize the undeniable ripple effect that happens with the care pediatric nurses give. While they might provide treatment and care directly to their young patients, they are also impacting the families of those little ones and even the larger community they belong to.

Each pediatric nurse who offers empathy, caring, education, and compassion to the families of pediatric patients helps them get through what is likely a trying time. In turn, that also helps community members who rally around the children and their families, including extended family, school friends, and faith community members.

Often pediatric nurses spend considerable amounts of time with the families of the children and infants they care for. These are excellent opportunities to help educate families about a diagnosis, treatment, continuing care at home, and expected prognosis. As an expert, families will look to you, so it’s important to honor that trust, but it’s a fine line. If you feel families could use some additional emotional support or additional resources, you can help turn them in the right direction. It’s a good idea for your team to have that information ready if it’s something that might be needed.

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Pediatric Nursing: Treating the Family

A pediatric nurse often forms strong, life-long bonds with some patients. Depending on the circumstances and how often nurses interact with the same patients, they will often find themselves in contact with those whose lives they had such a powerful impact on.

As a pediatric nurse, each of your actions can leave an indelible impression. Your goofy impressions, your colorful tops, your cheerful songs, and your calm manner can all give pediatric patients a courage to get through a scary time. Pediatric nurses can also help their patients understand that trips to hospitals, physicians’ offices, or healthcare centers aren’t necessarily fun, but they certainly are a place where kids are welcomed, cared for, and helped to feel better.

Because pediatric nurses care for children, they have to be especially careful to take care of themselves in their personal and professional lives. It is heartbreaking to see young children who are very ill or who are in pain. It is devastating when they die. Pediatric nurses must be able to call on special reserves of dedication and self-care to deal with the grief that can be a natural part of their job. Developing relationships with mentors or with other pediatric nurses can help nurses deal with feelings that might come up.

If you are a pediatric nurse, congratulations for all you do to help children. If you have a pediatric nurse in you life, offer a heartfelt thanks for the care they give.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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