This week’s celebration of Pediatric Nurses Week (October 4-8) is a reminder of the specialized work these dedicated nurses offer to their young patients.
For anyone interested in a career as a pediatric nurse, it’s helpful to know the responsibilities of this job. Nurses who work with children are the biggest advocates for their young patients. From toddlers to teenagers, pediatric nurses will become familiar with, and fluent in, the issues facing these ages.
Nurses who work with children will have an understanding of everything from toilet training and toddler play habits to social media and adolescent decision making habits. Pediatric nurses will see children for well visits, minor illness like a stomach flu, and life-threatening diseases including cancer.
Because of the range of ages, potential conditions, and situations, pediatric nurses have to know myriad relevant medical information and also how any issues or concerns will impact the family. Working with so many different families while focusing on a young patient can be challenging for pediatric nurses. Families are also the best advocates for the child and so creating a good working relationship with families is especially helpful. Compassion and understanding go a long way, but calling attention to concerns is also a pediatric nurse’s responsibility.
The Society of Pediatric Nurses is an excellent resource for nurses who work with children and their families. It offers guidance on education, advocacy, and clinical information to cover the needs of just about any pediatric nurse.
Nurses in this specialty are in high demand and can find a satisfying career in one office or by changing the focus of their career. They can find work in a family practice, a specialty practice, a hospital, an outpatient or surgical clinic, schools, or even rehabilitation centers.
By taking the exam, nurses are proving they have the most updated knowledge on evidence-based practices and on treating their young patients. This helps them give the best care possible as this specialty changes rapidly. Nurses who become certified are also demonstrating a specific commitment to being the best nurses they can and to gaining the tools necessary to make that happen. For a career move, this extra level is frequently noticed by your peers, supervisors, and organization. Nurses who are certified and keep their certification current are the nurse leaders organizations look for and depend on.
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.
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.
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.
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