What kind of nurse does it take to be a pediatric nurse?

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    Hi Everyone:

    I am a recent grad and I was hoping to get a little input from anyone who either works or has worked in a pediatric facility before.. I unfortunately never even did a rotation in pediatrics so I was just wondering what type of person it takes to work in pediatrics. Please don't respond with things like OBVIOUSLY COMPASSION, WHY ARE YOU ASKING THIS! (haha) I know this type of answer, hence why i went into nursing in the first place, I do consider myself compassionate, caring and have great patience.. But I do not have children at this point, I have nieces and nephews I care dearly about. I am only in my mid 20's... I can tell you this much about my nursing experience, I did Maternity and I did NOT like that.. but every other aspect of nursing I loved.. ranging from regular floor nursing, oncology to geriatric nursing.(even psych which I loved, total opposite of pads I know). People have told me it takes a certain type of person to work in pediatrics but what is that "type of person" I am gentle and kind and can't wait to begin my nursing career, wherever that may be.. but I just don't know what type of person it takes and am curious if anyone could offer me advice, I've always wondered about it but I do not think it's something I should fully submerge myself in.. I will gain experience elsewhere first (hopefully) and then if I am still interested I will hopefully look further into pediatrics.. thank you for any comments/thoughts/advice..
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    Nothing out of the ordinary. A love and interest for children. Great communication skills (with kids, parents etc) and sense of humor with the lil ones. Oh, and children are not mini adults (keep that in mind) ;-)

    Loved peds.
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    Thank you so much, great response.. Stuff like that I would like to know.. Guess I'm just a little nervous because those who do not know the nursing side of me always think that I am "tough" and I am under the impression that pediatric nurses are very sensitive .. I mean I know I'm not "tough" like others portray me, anyone who has seen me in the "nursing world" knows the truth, but I guess it's not how others portray me, it should be how I know I will be..
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    It actually does take some toughness to be a peds nurse. You have to be able to squash down the whole they're-kids-and-kids-aren't-supposed-to-get-sick/die thing so that you can get the job done. If you're overly wobbly on that, you'll suffer and burn out early. You also have to be able to look a parent in the eye and tell them that Cheetos are not food, that soda is not a substitute for water and that all children need limits, such as an appropriate bedtime... You need to be able to tell a kid that you don't understand whine-language and that screaming for no reason isn't acceptable. You have to be able to look at a 3 year old who wants nothing more than a huge glass of water and tell them they can't have more than a sip because you know they're going to barf if they drink as much as they want. You need to be able to conceal your feelings when you're faced with a non-accidental trauma and the mom sitting at the bedside is the perpetrator. Peds nurses are tough.

    We're also really good educators. We have to teach our patients and their parents about their illnesses and treatments in terms they can understand. It's an art, figuring out how to explain heart surgery to a 4 year-old or side effects of chemo to a 10 year-old. It's also tricky to know just exactly what a parent really wants to know about their kid's illness.

    We're creative. Getting a child to swallow a med isn't usually straight-forward. Getting them to present a limb for an IV start or injection isn't easy. Getting cooperation from a toddler is a challenge on 20 different levels. Creativity is the key! If you can chatter away about pop culture icons such as Dora the Explorer and her monkey Boots, or Thomas the Tank Engine, you'll get a lot farther.

    It does take a special person to work peds. Think of how differently each age group views the world and how much they understand about it. A peds nurse needs an arsenal of approaches that they've developed over time. Having kids of one's own isn't a prerequisite, but knowing how to interact with kids is. Good luck, and welcome to our Little World.
    Last edit by NotReady4PrimeTime on Sep 13, '11 : Reason: corrected typos - we're not perfect!
    JetBlitz, JourneyRN, maluisa, and 5 others like this.
  7. 0
    Quote from janfrn
    It actually does take some toughness to be a peds nurse. You have to be able to squash down the whole they're-kids-and-kids-aren't-supposed-to-get-sick/die thing so that you can get the job done. If you're overly wobbly on that, you'll suffer and burn out early. You also have to be able to look a parent in the eye and tell them that Cheetos are not food, that soda is not a substitute for water and that all children need limits, such as an appropriate bedtime... You need to be able to tell a kid that you don't understand whine-language and that screaming for no reason isn't acceptable. You have to be able to look at a 3 year old who wants nothing more than a huge glass of water and tell them they can't have more than a sip becaues you know they're going to barf if they drink as much as they want. You need to be able to conceal your feelings when you're faced with a non-accidental trauma and the mom sitting at the bedside is the perpetrator. Peds nurses are tough.

    We're also really good educators. We have to teach our patients and their parents about their illnesses and treatments in terms they can understand. It's an art, figuring out how to explain heart surgery to a 4 year-old or side effects of chemo to a 10 year-old. It's also tricky to know just exactly what a parent really wants to know about thier kid's illness.

    We're creative. Getting a child to swallow a med isn't usually straight-forward. Getting them to present a limb for an IV start or injection isn't easy. Getting cooperation from a toddler is a challenge on 20 different levels. Creativity is the key! If you can chatter away about pop culture icons such as Dora the Explorer and her monkey Boots, or Thomas the Tank Engine, you'll get a lot farther.

    It does take a psecial person to work peds. Think of how differently each age group views the world and how much they understand about it. A peds nurse needs an arsenal of approaches that they've developed over time. Having kids of one's own isn't a prerequisite, but knowing how to interact with kids is. Good luck, and welcome to our Little World.
    Wow, I can not thank you enough for that post.. You addressed many of the issues I was almost too afraid to bring up.. one being, as you quoted " You need to be able to conceal your feelings when you're faced with a non-accidental trauma and the mom sitting at the bedside is the perpetrator. Peds nurses are tough." I do think that, that part of it will be difficult for me.... but I guess I will have to learn to look at the WHOLE picture and the child's best interest and as you said... put my feelings aside.. I do think I am as creative, as creative comes, I think I can bring that to the table but not only that of course.. I give peds nurses so much credit because they must have so many eyes on them, of course they are so knowledgeable, but the parents too (in most cases) know just as much, in some cases more, about their child's illness... so the eyes are constantly on the caregiver, wanting to know each and every move.. I love the parts in which you addressed regarding "toughness" as a nurse, because thats where I feel I am, and it would not be in a negative way.. I just have never been one to OVERLY baby anyone including myself, but please, do not confuse that with a lack of sympathy by ANY means.. but mores in the regards that you addressed, right on the spot

    I sincerely thank you for your comment and am actually going to save it for the future so I can refer back.
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    Parents generally do not know more than the nurse about their child's illness...yet they often THINK they do. Sure they know whether their kid is acting "right" or not, but that is often as far as it goes until YOU teach them. Education is aimed at both the child and thr family, whatever structure that may be. You must learn to adapt to all age groups from neonates to adults. I feel this is the hardest challenge to master. Some people are naturals at it, others never develop the skill...most of the rest of us are somewhere inbetween.

    I second "toughness" as being important, but toughness with empathy. Most nurses who leave peds do so because they cannot cope with sick children. Either they have kids of their own and cannot turn off "mom" or "dad" roles, or they just feel too much. For me, that concern of their well being is what drives me to be better...instead of driving me away.

    And your comment of psych being completely opposite of peds could not be less true. In fact, the same skills in psych come into play with peds. You must always be on your toes, always creative. Kids kick and scream and bite. Teens have depression and come in with suicidal ideation, or attempts. Family dynamics needs to be assessed and your care often changes depending on the relationships of those involved with the child. Abuse issues come up. There is a TON of psych in peds.
    jahra and llg like this.
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    Parents of chronically-ill children and those with rare disorders definitely DO know more about the child's illness than the average nurse because that's the whole focus of their lives. When I preceptor new staff I always tell them to make good use of all their resources, and in this sort of situation, that means the parents too. They are, of course, the exception; most parents will have had limited contact with the health care world and will need lots of instruction and coaching.

    Coolbean12, you're so right about the scrutiny we're under all the time. Parents are vigilant when it comes to their kids (at least most of 'em are...) and want to know what you're doing and why, what that med is and why you're giving it and so on. It's always a good idea to have some sort of defense for how you do things because you KNOW you're going to hear, "The other nurse did it THIS way..."

    I'm going to write an article about family centered care... watch for it.
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    I wanted to thank everyone again for all their responses, it has been a while since I checked back to my post! I certainly read these comments and could have sworn that I wrote back but it looks like I never did.. How wonderful you all are for responding. It is great to see the way that Pediatric nurses think as I never really was able to do a full rotation and I wish I was able to.. Xstarsfalling- I do understand your comment now about the psych and that psych skills do play an important role, I just meant that originally I wanted to go into adult psych because that was the only experience I had (we never did a pediatric rotation).. Once again I am keeping all your comments saved because I am certainly going to refer back to this in the future, I thank you all for your comments.. Janfrn, I will look for your article, Thank you
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    You need courage and lots of it. You will see things from a different
    point of view after working in Peds , but its worth it.

    Good luck and keep us posted.........


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