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which is harder.. to be a pedi nurse or geriatric?

by BabyRN23 BabyRN23 (New) New

which is mentally draining?


Specializes in NICU.


NURSING is hard, regardless of the population you serve.

MN-Nurse, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg - Renal.

which is mentally draining?

Both of them are, but in one of them the parents are much harder to deal with.

Hopefully any career you choose will be mentally draining because you put your best effort into it. The key is finding something you enjoy doing, then do that.

eatmysoxRN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg,Cardiac. Has 1 years experience.

They are different and both have ups and downs. All types of nursing will. In both situations you will likely deal with family members who you won't like. You'll have patients who get on your nerves. Shadow both if you can to get a better taste.

BrandonLPN, LPN

Has 5 years experience.

Well, this is potentially a hot button thread.

I agree both are draining. I've never worked in peds, but I can only imagine that having the parents constantly hovering about would be nerve wracking.

One thing I will say, as a LTC nurse, is that I get annoyed at how we live in a society that so clearly values children way way way more than the elderly. Tell someone you're a pediatric nurse? They say "Oh, how special. You must have a special heart and are so blessed" Tell someone you're a geriatric nurse? They say "ew.... gross"

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

I do not relate to infants and young children very well, and I'm not accustomed to being around kids, so peds would be horribly draining to me. In addition, the parents often act more childish than the children.

Geriatrics is a piece of cake for me because I am used to being around older patient populations.

RNperdiem, RN

Has 14 years experience.

It is easier to find a job in geriatrics since the older person is the bread-and-butter of most healthcare. The jobs for pediatrics are much fewer.

There was even trouble in nurisng school finding pediatric clinical sites that could handle the number of students needing a peds clinical rotation.


Specializes in Home Care.

The only way you're going to know is to work with each population.

which is mentally draining?

I cannot comment on geriatrics since I've never worked with that population. However, I give the utmost respect to nurses who do. It has many challenges and setbacks that people don't consider.

I've worked peds my whole career (8 yrs). I now work in peds onc. I love it, however, it is very draining. Some people are surprised that children die. Also, you're not just dealing with the child, you are offering support to their parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. You are dealing with people who have been dealt the worst of the worst. It is not something to consider lightly.


Has 7 years experience.

I've worked both, and I submit that they are equally mentally draining. With both populations- the most draining part is dealing with the families. With peds you've got mom, dad, grandma, etc hovering around and questioning your every move. With geris you've got daughter, son, spouse, and longtime friend hovering around and questioning your every move.

Both are special populations with their own unique needs. To me, it's equally rewarding to help heal a child, or help ease a geri's pain or improve their quality of life.

The clear advantage to peds- less physically draining! Their bodies are usually smaller :)

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

Apples and oranges. Each (any!) speciality has its upsides and downsides...what comes easily to one may be very challenging to another. What emotionally/mentally drains one person, another may thrive on.

IMO, the best way to answer your question is to try both and decide for yourself.

KelRN215, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pedi. Has 10 years experience.

They are both draining but in different ways.

I worked in adult care- primarily geriatrics- for one summer in nursing school. Every night I'd go home hoping I'd die by the time I was 65 because I would see people who came to us in horrible shape from nursing homes, who didn't know who they were, where they were and didn't ever have anyone to come visit them. 3 old ladies in particular always stick in my mind... 2 of them I was assigned to sit with, the 3rd I was trying to help get ready to go home. The first 2 were so severely confused that they were almost in restraints. One believed that we were trying to poison her with meds and that the applesauce the nurses were giving her was stolen from a baby. She also believed that the hospital was stealing the letters that her family was sending her (sadly there were no such letters and no contact from her family). The 2nd woman asked me to buy her a copy of the newspaper because she wanted to read her own obituary- didn't I know that she died last night but then she came back to life and it was too late to stop the presses? She was also very busy and needed to go to a hair appointment at 11am because she was starring in a play at 2pm. At least she thought she had good things to get to. The final woman was preparing to be discharged (diagnosed with a UTI) but I could not convince her to put her shoes on. She thought she was being held hostage... she was convinced that she had gone to a concert in the city the night before and that she wandered through a tunnel and ended up here by mistake. She believed that her house was just the other way through the tunnel.

I have worked in pediatrics for my entire professional nursing career. It is emotionally draining- children do die in pediatrics and some parents put their kids through basically medical torture because they won't believe that their child isn't going to beat the odds- but I wouldn't ever trade it to be an adult nurse.

~PedsRN~, BSN, RN

Specializes in Acute Care Pediatrics. Has 4 years experience.

I have only ever been a pediatric nurse... and I will tell you the patients are a breeze, it's the parents you have to watch out for. :)

Sadala, ADN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg. Has 7 years experience.

I think ltc is frequently sad. That said, I LOVE the geriatric population and I think I could work with them just fine. I don't see older adults as diminished people. I see them as unique individuals (frequently with unique medical issues) who just have a few more years on them than I do.

I also absolutely LOVE kids. I think they are absolutely brilliant and funny and uniquely honest.

I just cannot imagine doing painful procedures on them. It just twists me into knots to think about it. When I had my son I made them give him a local before his circumcision (yes, I'm THAT bad). And then I worked with child victims for about ten years. That was difficult, but I could do it because I felt that I was providing protection and better futures for the children with whom I was involved.

I have so much respect for those of you who do peds and NICU. Honestly, I wish I could do peds because I really am good with kids and I enjoy working with them, but I just don't think I could hang.

tyvin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice / Psych / RNAC.

A young life compared to an older life...I have never been able to work with children. During clinical, when I was in school during the peds rotation, I could barely maintain. My heart was constantly breaking. The rotation was at a children's cancer ward. Those brave young angels encountering such a fate too early in their lives. I found I was too sensitive. Perhaps if I would have been in a med/surg children's surrounding it would have turned out different but I don't think so. When my nursing rotation had to watch 2 circumcisions (1 for each method) it was horrifying. I had one son at that time who had been circumcised and after the rotation I had one more....he is "not" circumcised.

Now on the other hand working with older people I had absolutely no problem. I've worked mainly in hospice & psych. Sure, there can be kids in hospice but I've always let management know my position on kids. I have a gift when it comes to hospice and passing on. It's my job to help them go to where ever it is they want to go. Older vs younger...gotta go with the oldies but goodies.

I have no problem working with kids. Kids are a product of their parents tho! You have to BS both of them sometimes, it's true. But I remember when I was taking my prereqs, so many others about to try to get into nursing ONLY wanted to work with kids for the same layperson reasons of kids aren't gross. LOL!!!!

I don't recommend anyone work with peds unless they have some experience working with difficult adults. Peds parents will really give you a run for the money and you have to have some tricks up the 'ol sleeve in dealing with them. The kiddos, you get on their level and be a pal. What I found from past experience is that when they are school age, you can be in "cahoots" with them in regards to their parents being embarrassing! Of course, a wink and a quick eyeroll of acknowledgement with a 10 year old eg his/her parents goes far in bonding. Just make the working relationship be with the child.


Specializes in Pediatric, Geriatric, Rehab. Has 2 years experience.

which is mentally draining?

I couldn't work in peds I work Geri & love it. It's very draining physically & mentally but its worth every minute. Peds I couldn't deal with the parents. Geri patients we have to deal with children,spouses, friends,etc, but for the most part they are easy to get through to. I couldnt handle dealing with parents with their child dying.