Pediatric nurses often say the field of pediatric nursing is something that calls to them for varied reasons, but helping children and their families is a top goal. Michaela Lewis, DNP, ARNP, CPNP-AC/PC, PMHS, CPN, CPEN, CNE, CNE-cl,VA-BC, CCRN is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, College of Nursing, and says making a positive difference for the children and families she cares for is so rewarding.
But pediatric nursing also offers opportunities to use cutting-edge data, equipment, and processes that advance her day-to-day nursing practices. Dr. Lewis, who is a member of the Society of Pediatric Nurses’ Board of Directors, also finds pediatric nursing provides pathways to pursue her professional interests including pediatric hospital medicine, quality improvement, instructional design, and initiatives that promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. She shared some of her thoughts about a career in pediatric nursing in time for the annual celebration of Pediatric Nurses Week which runs from October 2 to 6.
Please tell Minority Nurse a bit about yourself.
I completed my undergraduate nursing studies at Gardner-Webb University in 2008 and earned my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at the Medical University of South Carolina in 2015. Additionally, I completed post-graduate studies in pediatric acute care at the University of South Alabama and completed the Advanced Practice Provider fellowship offered by Seattle Children’s Hospital in 2019.
I have over 17 years of nursing experience and hold multiple national certifications in pediatric emergency, critical care, and mental health specialties as well as in nursing didactic and clinical education and vascular access. Personally, I enjoy reading, weightlifting, yin yoga, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.
How did you find your career path to pediatric nursing and what makes it rewarding?
I was drawn in by the ethical maxims and caring science of the nursing profession and by the opportunity that it offers to interface with children and their families in a way that makes a positive difference. It is most rewarding to see and know that your actions, as a pediatric nurse, have contributed to the healing of a patient and family. A career in pediatric nursing has also afforded me opportunities to work across the country and overseas; to learn and work with brilliant intra- and interdisciplinary colleagues; to advance professionally; and to grow personally.
You work with a fragile population and their families. What nursing skills do you rely on most heavily?
I rely most heavily on my ability to assess patients and families, the process of gathering data using senses. Many of the patients I care for, due to developmental or health-related considerations or other barriers, are unable to communicate using words. Receptivity to and accurate processing of body language, paralanguage, and other signs and symptoms that patients and families consciously or unconsciously share are the foundational of most successful outcomes.
Why is it so essential to have a diverse representation of nurses in pediatric nursing?
Person-centered care focuses on the individual within multiple interwoven and complicated contexts. Foundational to person-centered care is respect for diversity, differences, preferences, values, needs, resources, and the determinants of health unique to the individual. Inclusivity and representation are essential to providing person-centered care to increasingly diverse populations, care that requires seeking to understand the totality of the individual’s lived experiences and connections to others.
Diverse representation is the only means by which we can create healthcare systems that empower individuals to make informed decisions about health maintenance and illness and injury prevention behaviors within the context of their own cultures; systems that recognize and value the undeniable influence of culture on the biology, attitudes, beliefs, and practices of patient populations and healthcare delivery alike.
What kinds of technological or medical advances have you seen in your career and what do you expect will develop in the future?
As advances in portable and wireless technologies have developed and expanded, so has the provision of home health and telehealth services. These advances have expanded the reach of healthcare providers and services, making some forms of care and treatment more accessible and conducive to improving the quality of life of patients and families. It will be interesting to witness the evolution of artificial intelligence and its application in the detection and diagnosis of disease, as well as its role in information generation and sharing.
What would you like readers to know about pediatric nursing?
The nursing profession is facing some longstanding and unprecedented challenges; pediatric nursing is not immune to those challenges. Every challenge, however, presents an opportunity for growth. Child health is the foundation of health and well-being for societies. Pediatric nurses are uniquely poised to lead the charge in reshaping healthcare systems across all care settings and levels of impact.
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