5 Pediatric Skills You Won’t Learn in the Classroom
By Erin Wallace, Contributor
Nurses learn a wealth of practical skills in nursing school to prepare them for the rigors of daily shifts in a hospital, nursing home or doctor’s office. But many practical skills are gained on the job as a pediatric nurse.
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5 Pediatric Nursing Skills Many RNs Learn on the Job
You’ve sat through all the classes, aced your boards and created a resume that outlines internship and work experience. But solid, effective pediatric nursing skills go beyond just book smarts and overarching concepts you’ve learned from professors.
Check out these five skills you’re more likely to practice and perfect once you start working as a pediatric RN.
1. Relationship building
As a pediatric nurse, especially if you work in a doctor’s office, you’ll likely see the same patients repeatedly as they grow. No matter where you work, it’s important to focus on building a relationship with your pediatric patients and their parents.
One of the best ways to do this, recommends the Baylor College of Medicine, is to use preferred first names with patients and parents to help build rapport. Also try to find common interests among parents, and use humor whenever possible to help lighten the mood. It can also help to have passing knowledge of children’s television shows or movie characters.
Laura Wallace, a pediatric nurse at Westwood-Mansfield Pediatric Associates, says that she rarely calls her patients’ parents Mom or Dad.
“I try to address them by their first names whenever possible, mostly because they’re not my mother or father, and sometimes it can make them feel uncomfortable. Instead, I might say to the child, ‘and who has come with you today?’ which usually prompts the parents to introduce themselves.”
2. Offering emotional support
Nurses provide care for patients and families during vulnerable times in their lives. Many hospitals offer training on how to relate to patients and ways to effectively support them and their families.
One of the best ways to do this is through patient education:
a. Take an individualized approach
b. Show empathy and compassion for their situation
c. Listen to both patients and their families
3. Handling difficult family members or situations
Pediatric nursing in particular is a sensitive practice area because you’re dealing with sick children, who are supposed to have many decades of life ahead of them. Children in your care may be quite sick, and it can be difficult to deal with parents who are emotionally distressed.
Here are some tips for pediatric nurses to emotionally support parents more effectively:
a. Always enter the room quietly and respectfully
b. Inform the parents of the plans and goals for the day
c. Be an active listener
d. Treat their child as if he/she was your own
4. Making enough time for self-care
While this one may seem obvious, pediatric nurses need plenty of time to unwind and de-stress from the daily rigors of pediatric nursing.
When nurses can engage in hobbies they enjoy, it helps them return to work with a fresh outlook and perspective, improving their abilities to care for pediatric patients. New nurses can check out other tips for taking care of themselves and surviving their first year.
5. Managing your time effectively
Staying organized is one of those pediatric nursing skills that can’t be taught in the classroom. Prioritize tasks, see them through to completion, and use personal checklists, flowcharts and spreadsheets as needed.
Putting these practical on-the-job skills to work helps you better care for your patients and grow your pediatric nursing career over time.