PICU RN and a parent?

  1. 0
    I have been an ICU RN for adults only for many years and have been wanting to work with kids, hoping to transition in some way. Have mostly been envisioning myself working with healthy kids in a non-ICU environment. I am tossing around the idea of PICU but as a mom, I am already worried all the time about something happening to my kids. I don't think I would be able to handle traumas or really sick kids, having some of my own at home. I already am up late at night worrying! On the other hand I love kids and think maybe I would enjoy seeing the little ones get better.
    How do you handle it, for those who are PICU nurses and also parents... does it make you paranoid and worrying more about your own kids? Or are you able to keep the two situations separate?
  2. 10 Comments so far...

  3. 1
    Hi
    I am a mom of two. I have never worked anywhere but a PICU except to float of course. I love it. Never having worked with adults I can't say from experience that it is the same, but I imagine it's not that different. We are professionals at work and moms at home. There are absolutly bad days and sometimes I go home and cry over somehing awful that happened, but if I ever stop I don't want to be a nurse anymore. We still are human.
    MommyandRN likes this.
  4. 1
    I have three children. My youngest spent 7 weeks in PICU when he was 5 (he's 25 now). When his health improved, I went back to school with the sole intention of someday working in PICU and have just completed my 11th year as a PICU nurse. I work in a quaternary care PICU and hope to be rocking my grandbabies someday soon. I've only ever once had an experience where I "saw" one of my kids in a situation at work and it shook me up pretty badly. But I worked with a really great, supportive group of people who were able to help me see that it was only a trick my mind was playing on me. On the other hand, my personal experiences allow me sometimes to intuit what the parents are thinking, even if they can't put it into words. Having walked in their shoes lets me be a better nurse. Sometimes I use my own story to help them process things, and the families I've shared with have been very receptive. So many people go through their whole lives without knowing places like PICUs exist, and there are others who are totally grateful that we do.
    MommyandRN likes this.
  5. 3
    Like Jan, I have 3 children. The youngest, 19, is a repaired TOF c pulmonary atresia. Repair was a long time coming (6 years of age), and we've had multiple experiences in several different hospitals. Each time she was in the hospital was a life lesson & lessons in nursing, from the good to the bad.

    My dream from earliest memories was to be a nurse. I read the entire "Sue Barton, RN" series of books (gives away my age, huh?) and anything other books (fictional, of course!). I made different decisions and took another path. I wouldn't change those paths/decisions for anything in the world.

    I went to nursing school at age 45 when we felt Kate was at her "healthiest" and probably wouldn't need surgery for another few years. How wrong I was! But I did graduate!

    For 8 years previous, I had been working as a unit secretary in our PICU. I fell in love with PICU nursing from the moment I walked through the doors for that secretarial interview. I had found my calling and knew then and there I would become an RN and realize my dream. I've now been a PICU RN for the last 3 1/2 years.

    I tell you this to let you know that, for me, all the things I experienced, I needed to experience to be the kind of nurse I want to be (I would have rather been the patient more than anything, not my child). I took away invaluable experiences from even the "bad" nurses - taught me what NOT to be. I know what it's like to be on the other side of the bed and I am able to empathize with my families and can honestly tell them (if they want to know) I've been there.

    Yes, you can be a fabulous PICU RN with children of your own. They may complain that you won't let them do certain things (skateboard or bike without a helmet, etc) and yes, you'll obsess over their health more. I cannot express how much I love the PICU and the children. I stay focused on our positive outcomes which far outweigh the sad ones. I cry when I need to - some of that crying has been with the families. When I can't cry, I'll quit nursing.

    Now, I'm looking forward to rocking my soon-to-be granddaughter in February! I'm sure I'll be an obsessive granny - I now know way too much!

    Like the song says "I could've missed the pain, but I'd have to miss the dance". The dance is sublime!

    Cindy
  6. 1
    One other note: our PICU just "merged" with the Peds CVICU. That's the one place I do not like to go. I'm really working hard on this, because I know I may have to go to that "side" when they are short. Of course, I can only take the "floor ready" patients. I been over there twice and each time was hard. Even though this is a new space, Kate nearly died in our old CVICU. So, yeah, in all honesty, that part of our unit is especially hard. But I am learning and persevering on that front. I have a part of my brain that shuts off that part of our unit. Management knows this and is supportive, as are most of my co-workers.
    MommyandRN likes this.
  7. 1
    Quote from WarEagle4Life
    I made different decisions and took another path. I wouldn't change those paths/decisions for anything in the world.

    I went to nursing school at age 45 when we felt Kate was at her "healthiest" and probably wouldn't need surgery for another few years. How wrong I was! But I did graduate!

    For 8 years previous, I had been working as a unit secretary in our PICU. I fell in love with PICU nursing from the moment I walked through the doors for that secretarial interview. I had found my calling and knew then and there I would become an RN and realize my dream. I've now been a PICU RN for the last 3 1/2 years.

    I tell you this to let you know that, for me, all the things I experienced, I needed to experience to be the kind of nurse I want to be (I would have rather been the patient more than anything, not my child). I took away invaluable experiences from even the "bad" nurses - taught me what NOT to be. I know what it's like to be on the other side of the bed and I am able to empathize with my families and can honestly tell them (if they want to know) I've been there.

    Like the song says "I could've missed the pain, but I'd have to miss the dance". The dance is sublime!

    Cindy
    Quote from WarEagle4Life
    One other note: our PICU just "merged" with the Peds CVICU. That's the one place I do not like to go. I'm really working hard on this, because I know I may have to go to that "side" when they are short. Of course, I can only take the "floor ready" patients. I been over there twice and each time was hard. Even though this is a new space, Kate nearly died in our old CVICU. So, yeah, in all honesty, that part of our unit is especially hard. But I am learning and persevering on that front. I have a part of my brain that shuts off that part of our unit. Management knows this and is supportive, as are most of my co-workers.
    Wow, your story mirrors mine in so many ways. My son has a corrected TGA; his Senning was at age 36 hours, in a time when they didn't do them on neonates and stopped doing them altogether only months later because of high morbidity and mortality. He then became ill with a malignant blood disorder, his liver failed, he received a transplant then proceeded to expereince every complication known to man and a few no one thought about. He stroked on the morning after his oldest sister's 10th birthday. My experiences at the bedside as a mom totally guide my practice now. When I counsel families who are considering transplantation for their child, I use all the thoughts, emotions and understading I've collected to help them choose.

    The unit where I work now receives transplants and CV surgical patients, traumas, burns, oncology, the gamut of PICU conditions. Some days are harder than others, particularly when we have a child with those familiar conditions. But I can't see myself doing anything else. (Trust me, I do think about it, working conditions in our unit are especially bad right now and there are days when I wish I was somehere else because of them. But never the work.)
    MommyandRN likes this.
  8. 1
    I've been a PICU nurse for 18 years and a parent for 15. While I love it and I feel called to this field of nursing, it also has made me a paranoid mother. I'm sure I worry more than most about my kids, but seeing all kinds of nightmares happen to other parents hasn't helped. The flip side, is that it has helped me be a very empathetic nurse. I have also dealt with some significant health issues with one of my children. That has helped me appreciate the frustrations and fears that can be experienced by families.
    MommyandRN likes this.
  9. 0
    i was a mom before i was a nurse, and i've always worked peds, mostly and most recently picu. yes, i am a paranoid mom, if it weren't for my husband, my poor kids would never ride bikes, sled, skateboard, or anything else without a nice thick layer of bubblewrap surrounding them. my kids hate it when i start a safety lecture with "i had a pt in the picu who did that and..."

    on the other hand, having had a child who lived much of her short life in picu (although not the one i work in), i feel i am a better nurse for it, i am more empathetic as well, and some strange behaviors from parents in the unit don't seem all that strange to me, it's just how they cope. i have also on occasion shared my personal experiences with parents, usually when my pt is end-of-life. sometimes a grieving parent just needs to unload on someone who's been there.

    i only saw my child in a patient once, and it was more that she physically resembled my oldest, healthy daughter so much they could have been twins. she bothered me so much because of her horrible situation of abuse. i came home that am, let my then 8 year old skip school, we shopped all day and had ice cream for dinner. made both of us feel better, so yes, you can separate work and home. if you really want to work peds, i say go for it. i have found it incredibly rewarding. you could always start in general peds and work your way into picu when you feel ready, or you may love the general peds population. there are a ton of options in pediatrics. good luck!
  10. 1
    Not a nurse, but your post got me thinking. I started working in inpatient peds cardiology in 1995. 364 days after starting my new job, my oldest was born. To say that it was an eye opener truly doesn't do it justice.
    Once you have children, your perspective changes. No longer are they "just patients". You find yourself saying "that could have been my son/daughter". And you find yourself in a state of constant worry. This is a normal reaction, I promise.
    My background as an EMT and paramedic taught me well how to deal with emergency situations. I can stand alongside a CT surgeon and help him put in a chest tube or a central line in the smallest of babies. I can put an IV in a baby with onion veins during a code. I can explain to parents, during the worst time in their child's life, exactly what is going on during a resuscitation.
    But you know what? I damn near fainted when my 6 year old son had to have stitches in his lip because he fell and hit the pointed end of a table. Our reactions, for better or worse, make us human.
    As healthcare professionals, we do the best we can with our patients to give them a better life than the one they had when they came in. I've had the good fortune to work in just about every area of my peds level I trauma center - and I wouldn't trade a moment of it. I think of my children all the time, and pray that the things I see at work never visit my home, sure. I also have faith that whatever happens, I'll take it day by day and do the best job that I can to deal with it. But I never let it overwhelm my thoughts.
    I've had the opportunity to truly make a difference in the life of a child. Some of those children are now adults with their own children. Other patients I've held in my arms as they died. Our jobs as caregivers allow us the unique opportunity to change someone's life for the better. It is, by far, the most rewarding job I've ever had.

    vamedic4
    tryingtohaveitall likes this.
  11. 0
    Quote from vamedic4
    Not a nurse, but your post got me thinking. I started working in inpatient peds cardiology in 1995. 364 days after starting my new job, my oldest was born. To say that it was an eye opener truly doesn't do it justice.
    Once you have children, your perspective changes. No longer are they "just patients". You find yourself saying "that could have been my son/daughter". And you find yourself in a state of constant worry. This is a normal reaction, I promise.
    My background as an EMT and paramedic taught me well how to deal with emergency situations. I can stand alongside a CT surgeon and help him put in a chest tube or a central line in the smallest of babies. I can put an IV in a baby with onion veins during a code. I can explain to parents, during the worst time in their child's life, exactly what is going on during a resuscitation.
    But you know what? I damn near fainted when my 6 year old son had to have stitches in his lip because he fell and hit the pointed end of a table. Our reactions, for better or worse, make us human.
    As healthcare professionals, we do the best we can with our patients to give them a better life than the one they had when they came in. I've had the good fortune to work in just about every area of my peds level I trauma center - and I wouldn't trade a moment of it. I think of my children all the time, and pray that the things I see at work never visit my home, sure. I also have faith that whatever happens, I'll take it day by day and do the best job that I can to deal with it. But I never let it overwhelm my thoughts.
    I've had the opportunity to truly make a difference in the life of a child. Some of those children are now adults with their own children. Other patients I've held in my arms as they died. Our jobs as caregivers allow us the unique opportunity to change someone's life for the better. It is, by far, the most rewarding job I've ever had.

    vamedic4
    Great post!


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