Peds is NOT easy!

  1. 40 I just had to post this in response to the dozens of posts I see from nursing students or new graduates that want to work in peds because "kids are so cute," and "I want to take care of babies," and "I don't want to change adult diapers."

    As anyone who has worked in pediatrics could tell you, peds nursing is not easier than adult nursing, and at times it is more difficult.

    In peds, you might be assigned 5 patients, just like on a med surg floor. But your patients can't all speak for themselves. They can't press their call button to tell you when they are in pain, can't breath well, or their IV site is burning. You have to constantly be alert for these, and many other problems because our patients can't report them.

    In peds, you have to care for the patient and the family. Some family members are great. Others are incredibly anxious, questioning everything you say and do and constantly asking you to check on little Jimmy because they are positive something is wrong. Other families are demanding. They think that because their child is in the hospital, so are they. They want meals, blankets, pillows, and expect you to supply them with Tylenol for their headaches and money for transportation home.

    In peds, everything is tiny. Those veins you have to stick on an adult? 1/4 the size on a young child. Those urethra's it's so hard to find when cathing little old ladies? Microscopic on a newborn baby girl.

    Peds nurses don't just have to know standard adult doses (650 mg of Tylenol), but we have to know mg/kg dosages as well. And we have to be able to calculate them quickly in order to catch a mistake in an order and prevent an unsafe dose.

    Giving medications? 95% of your adult population will be more than happy to swallow their pain pill, or all 20 of their medications in one gulp. In peds, you're trying to convince a stubborn three year old to open their mouth so you can get the syringe of medication in them. They cry and kick and fight and more times then not they end up with half the medication on them and half on you. Don't even try to convince a toddler that amoxicillin tastes like bubble gum. They know the difference.

    Finally, accidents in peds can be just as big and messy as adults. Spend three hours with a two year old with explosive diarrhea. Change the diaper 6 times, change the bed linen four times, change your scrubs once, and give the child three baths. Trust me, you'll be begging for an adult who can tell you when they need to use the commode, even if they do need help wiping.
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  3. Visit  Ashley, PICU RN profile page

    About Ashley, PICU RN

    From 'New Jersey'; Joined Apr '11; Posts: 2,556; Likes: 4,409.

    45 Comments so far...

  4. Visit  FancypantsRN profile page
    3
    Well said! I work with peds in the ER and bingo! They can be much more time consuming for every task and they can crash much faster than adults. IV's alone are a challenge to maintain - arm boards are no guarantee.
  5. Visit  celyseRNBSN profile page
    9
    I completely agree! Many people want to go into peds because they "absolutely love kids." While you do have to love kids, you also have to watch them be ill and sometimes die. It's not for the faint of heart. I have SO MUCH respect for pedi nurses! It takes a special kind of person to do what you do.
    NursKris, LadyFree28, havehope, and 6 others like this.
  6. Visit  OnlybyHisgraceRN profile page
    2
    I agree with you. Thank your for sharing. I have much respect for pediatric nurses!
    Gold_SJ and MEGREEN like this.
  7. Visit  JustBeachyNurse profile page
    1
    Very much agree. I do medically complex pedi home health. One of my former classmates oriented to my case that I am primary for, she told me the patient was soooo cute and so were his siblings. However when faced with a 12 hr shift that your going non stop (even nap time requires monitoring) she changed her tune. She seemed afraid of the patient. Afraid to troubleshoot the feeding pump. Unsure which tube got mess & which got the food in a JG set up. She thought it would be like babysitting. Now she does the late teens who mostly require monitoring and can communicate somewhat. I have to double check med doses each time my pts weight or status changes. There is a huge knowledge base necessary. Plus, when it comes to labs or stable patients pedi to are stable until they are not. The lab ranges often have a more narrow critical range than adults. One decimal point off and serious harm can be done.
    LadyFree28 likes this.
  8. Visit  nurse2many profile page
    1
    Well said! Most times stdents have no idea what they're talking about ( sorry NS, speaking from experience). I do home visits from time to time for pedi patients, and each time I think about them for days to come. I have learned to love the geriatric population, I love their stories, their difficult personalities, their complains and their " Thank you's". After work I go home and laugh to my self about what they say to me, sometimes I thank Lord for letting me be the one, to take care of them in their final moments.
    thleenium likes this.
  9. Visit  Kuniklo profile page
    6
    Let's not forget having to deal with child abuse cases or shaken babies. I would get so depressed. Pedi nurses must be tough as old leather.
    LadyPotter, LadyFree28, SHGR, and 3 others like this.
  10. Visit  Esme12 profile page
    11
    well, said Ashley.......

    Sick children aren't so easy to care for nor are they so easy to say good-bye to......children die too. A mistake with a child with just one of those silly decimal points (because, who needs math in nursing).....can cause a child it's life. The margin for error in very narrow with the little ones and the consequences much greater. If a airway that is one millimeter wide gets even a half a millimeter of swelling...you have a very compromised airway and no room to work to get one.

    I love caring for the little ones, but it isn't easy by any stretch of the imagination.
  11. Visit  MomRN0913 profile page
    2
    OMG, peds is so not easy and the one place I never want to work! I hated in in Nursing school. The screaming crying kid who doesn't want to take their medicine, not for me. Being responsible for the lives of little children? Uh-huh. Like the above poster said. One simple little decimal point can easily kill a kid (also in adults, but it's different)

    I can't stomach seeing a child in pain, so yeah, not easy.

    I always hand it to the pads nurses..... I couldn't do it.
    Wise Woman RN and Gold_SJ like this.
  12. Visit  thleenium profile page
    3
    When I started school I was really surprised at how almost everyone wants to do peds! It had never crossed my mind and I have no interest in it whatsoever (I prefer the other end of life, thanks!). Maybe they forget that kids can get very, very sick, and that peds nursing is also family nursing.
    LadyFree28, Esme12, and SHGR like this.
  13. Visit  BostonTerrierLoverRN profile page
    4
    yup, . . .Nothing like having Phenergan Syrup coughed in my face, something akin to getting peppersprayed. That said, he was a cute little booger, and it was easy to forgive!! I did learn not to get right in their space and do that "jet plane coming in for a landing thing!". . . .although he really got a kick out of that.Peds, but I know God made "Ped Nurses" to take care of them. Thank God for that!!!!!!

    Boston
    JKindRN, GuntherNP, Vespertinas, and 1 other like this.
  14. Visit  RNsRWe profile page
    12
    I just posted something on the Easy job?? thread that could very easily slip in here.

    We could actually start a whole series of threads, with titles such as "ICU is not easy!" and "OB is not easy!" and "Med-Surg is not easy!" and "Dialysis is not easy!" and "Wound Care is not easy!"....

    Etc. etc.

    Like I've said many times, the easiest job in nursing is one you have never had any responsibility in.
    sergel02, RNsince13, gail8403, and 9 others like this.
  15. Visit  brownbook profile page
    5
    I believe what you say you hear but I have always heard the opposite. No one wants to take care of sick kids, too scary!

    My big nursing student misconception was that L&D would be so easy! The doctor delivered the baby, the mom pushed it out, what in the world would a L&D nurse do?

    Then I became the 11 pm to 7 am house administrative nurse. I still have nightmares about phone calls from L&D... "we need OR for a stat c-section." Or "six active labor patients just walked in.....we need more help!"

    Now I have the utmost respect for that "easy" area of nursing.
    LadyFree28, GuntherNP, skyegirl, and 2 others like this.


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