What kind of procedures I should expect to be a part of at the bedside? What kind of things will I have to help the doctors with?
It's so hard to give a comprehensive list here. There can be a huge variety of bedside procedures in PICU. Most commonly: intubation/extubation, central line placement/removal, arterial line placement, biopsy and needle aspiration, spinal taps, chest tube placement/removal, suturing/suture removal, and drain removal. That's all I can think of off the top of my head, but I'm sure I've missed some. There really is a big variety. I've assisted our neurosurgeons when they do a bedside drainage of CSF from a VP shunt. You just never know. Of course, this is in addition to nursing procedures such as NG tube placement, foleys, PIV starts, blood draws, etc.
Is it more common for the patients to have central lines rather than peripheral iv's?
Yes, but it depends on the patient. Your sick patients that are requiring TPN, frequent/length antibiotic administration, vaso-active mediations, or high volumes of fluid/meds will have central lines. In general, we want to get the central lines out as soon as possible (infection risk) so when the child is more stable we will switch to a PIV.
Do you ever feel like you assignment is too heavy or do you find them fair and you can devote your time to good care?
This is really going to vary a lot depending on your facility. The nature of PICU is that it's constantly changing. You can start out with two relatively stable kids and before you know it both of them are going bad. Or your unit gets slammed with admissions and you suddenly find yourself managing two or three very sick patients. Or a child is coding and you need all hands on deck to help with that one child. On my unit, everyone is really great about helping each other out. If we have an emergency, like a code, and need lots of nurses in one room, one or two nurses (depending on how busy the unit is) will circulate, check on patients, do vitals, give medications that can't wait, etc. until the primary nurse can get back to their kids. While there have definitely been times that I've felt overwhelmed with work (it's usually paperwork more than patient-work) there is usually someone offering to help.
And ultimately can you say you love your job!?
Absolutely! PICU/NICU nursing is my passion and there isn't a day that I don't love taking care of my kids. Not to say that there aren't days that it isn't hard, stressful, and heart-wrenching. But I can honestly say there isn't any other field of nursing that I'd rather be doing.