What Do Nurses Find Most Rewarding About Pediatric Nursing?
By Laura Winzeler, contributor
Choosing pediatric nursing as a specialty requires a special temperament. Top-notch clinical skills have to be paired with nearly infinite amounts of patience, compassion and the ability to have fun. You need to be engaged and empathetic as well as objective and efficient when caring for children with injuries or illnesses.
We asked a few RNs working in pediatrics to share what they feel are some of the greatest rewards of ped nursing. See if you relate to their responses.
Providing care for the entire family
One of the most important soft skills a pediatric nurse possesses is the ability to help the families of young patients navigate fear and stress during vulnerable, confusing times. A typical workday for a pediatric nurse may be the worst day in a parent's life. In the case of a critical injury or life-threatening illness, parents are confronted with the challenge of trusting a stranger with the welfare of the most important person in their lives.
In non-acute healthcare settings, pediatric nurses provide personalized treatment plans for children that might include administering vaccinations, performing annual wellness exams and promoting healthy habits, such as coaching the entire family on wholesome nutrition and exercise programs to help prevent childhood obesity.
Dr. Cindy Trent, CPNP-C, a faculty member for Walden University's Master of Science in Nursing program, has been a nurse practitioner for over 25 years and has been teaching nursing for over 15 years. She shares, "I find that the most rewarding aspect of working in pediatrics is having the opportunity not only to take care of a child but also to provide care and guidance for the entire family unit. When treating a patient, I'm often not only addressing the child's parents but multiple family members. It's therefore important to integrate holistic care, taking into account both a child's values and the family's beliefs, into every office visit."
Finding inspiration in a child's positive attitude
Pediatric nurses engage children on their own level, using age-appropriate communication to build trust. When caring for young children, this can often involve a good amount of silliness and fun that's bound to boost the nurse's mood too.
Laura Van Haren, RN, BSN, is a pediatric nurse at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. When asked about the most rewarding aspects of her job, Laura says, "I love working with kids as they are unbelievably resilient. Kiddos tend to take everything in stride. They inspire me daily."
Helping to relieve a child's stress and anxiety in a medical setting
Equally important as the physical care pediatric nurses deliver to young patients is the psychological assistance they offer. Pediatric charge nurse at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Susan Sears, RN, BSN, CRRN, shares, "I love seeing a patient come in afraid and nervous and being able to comfort them by letting them know what a great place our hospital is. Then seeing their smiling, happy faces as they leave knowing that they are now a part of the Mary Free Bed family."
This emotional support is critical to helping sick or injured kids deal with the psychological injuries often associated with hospital stays. Professor Justin Kenardy, MAPS, is a clinical psychologist, professor of psychology at the University of Queensland and deputy director of the Recover Injury Research Centre. His large body of research focuses on understanding, detecting and treating psychological distress in children.
Professor Kenardy's research finds about 10-15% of children who are admitted to a hospital after sustaining an injury develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). About 20-25% of children admitted to areas such as the intensive care unit (ICU) develop a psychological disorder related to the trauma of a hospital stay.
Supporting children through every age and developmental stage
A pediatric nurse who works in a physician's office or school clinic often has the chance to provide essential care to a child repeatedly as they grow, following them through different developmental stages. Nurses build strong bonds with pediatric patients and their parents, forming supportive relationships that can last for years.
On this rewarding aspect of pediatric nursing, Walden University's Dr. Cindy Trent, CPNP-C, says, "I truly enjoy being able to provide children and their families with continuous education from a patient's infancy through adolescence. Children are our future, and it's an incredibly rewarding experience to be part of their support system as they learn and grow."
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