I'm a BSN student and just got a PCA position at a Children's Hospital - tips?

  1. Hi!

    I just landed my dream job (as a nursing student) as a float pool PCA at a big, local Children's Hospital. I just finished my sophomore year and thus have not had peds yet. I love kids and currently work in a day care with infants-age 4 and have been babysitting for a long time.

    I volunteered in one of the 3 NICUs at this hospital so I know what that's like (and I love it!). However I really have not had a ton of experience in peds and I'm really excited to get it, since I love kids and hope to be a pedi nurse after I graduate.

    What are things I should look out for with sick kids, especially as a PCA? What things do you as nurses really appreciate/like when a PCA does it? Any tips for floating? Any tips for dealing with parents?

    Thanks so much! I'm so excited to start!
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    About lumosnox

    Joined: Apr '12; Posts: 12; Likes: 4


  3. by   umcRN
    One thing I really appreciate as a nurse is when techs actually sit and play with my patients. I work ICU so it's rare to have a kiddo that needs to be entertained but when they do it's usually first thing in the morning, before the parents get there or wake up, while I'm trying to assess my two patients, chart, give meds and round and I Just don't have time to sit with the little ones (esp toddlers) as long as I'd like, and if a toddler is bored well then they're going to with have a temper tantrum or sit quietly while they pull on/remove the various devices attached to them.

    Also be visible. Don't be sitting at the desk texting because your "required" tasks are complete. Ask the nurses if there's anything you can do for them. As a student, if you are willing to help the nurses might be willing to teach and have you observe different treatments/dressing changes/procedures etc.
  4. by   RunnerRN2015
    Congratulations! I'm also a nursing student who works as a CNA/HCT at a large children's hospital. I love it! The most helpful item I have is a badge hanger that shows the normal BP, respirations, and HR for the various age groups. There is a huge difference! We do rectal temps on the babies so if you don't know how to do that, be sure to ask. The majority of my kiddos have at least 1 family member there 24/7 so it's rare that I help with any bathing/showering. I take VS, record I&Os, change bed linens, assist with discharges (removing IVs) and admissions (VS and height/weight, orienting to the floor, i.e. snack room, etc) and often get asked to assist the RN with inserting IVs, giving injections, etc. If I'm the only NA on the floor and we're full, then I have 24 patients. If there are 2 of us, I've had as few as 4 patients when census is low. I've learned a lot!
  5. by   marshmallowstar
    I was a PCT in a Peds ED during nursing school, it was awesome and I learned so much. Since you'll be in the float pool you'll probably orient/interact with lots of different techs. As you orient ask them what they wish they had known when they first started, particularly about their floor. Make sure you always know what pts are NPO or on diet restrictions since most won't be able to or won't want to tell you. Kiddos are great at waiting till mom is out of the room then asking for a popsicle when they're on a ketogenic diet. If you're not sure of something, ask! Even if you have a grumpy nurse or parent or doc, she or he will be even more grumpy if something derails the treatment plan. I agree with the above poster, be visible. The down side, you'll run for gingerale and help with linen changes more than you'll ever want to but you'll get to help with procedures too. As a tech I got to help the docs out more than I ever did as a nurse. Assisted with halo removals, sutures, LPs, ortho reductions all that jazz.
    Have fun! Remember you're allowed to have bad days but being in a bad mood doesn't help anyone feel better.

    Good Luck!
  6. by   KelRN215
    Some basics for working with hospitalized children:
    *Do NOT give them choices for something that they don't actually have a choice about. They have to have VS done, no questions but they do have a choice in some ways. "Should I listen to mommy's heart first?" "Does teddy want his arm hugged?" "Do you want a hug on your arm or your leg?" "Should we check your temperature under your arm or in your mouth?" (this for children who are old enough to cooperate with an oral temp.)
    *If you have them, cartoon scrubs can be an easy way to get kids to open up to you. If they see Dora on your shirt, they'll think of you as less intimidating.
    *Check in with your nurses at the beginning of every shift. When I worked in the hospital, there were sometimes very specific things I wanted (i.e. No tympanic temps on infants or craniotomy patients) and just other things that it's good to check in with.
    *If a child is alone and needs to be fed, offer to help even if it's not your patient. Babies with no parent at the bedside are time consuming based on that reason alone.
    *Don't disappear from the unit just because you think your tasks are done. This was my biggest issue with the NAs that I worked with... when I actually needed help with something, they were nowhere to be found and were later found hiding in the locker room talking on the phone or worse, sleeping in a closet or the treatment room at night.