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emmajune emmajune (New Member) New Member

PICU nurses who are parents!

PICU   (1,640 Views 3 Comments)
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Hi all! I recently graduated nursing school and am looking for jobs. I'm feeling torn about whether to go into peds-- on the one hand, I love kids, have lots of childcare experience, and feel like I would do well in peds. The main thing giving me pause is this: I want to start a family in a few years, and I'm afraid that being a PICU nurse and seeing sick kids all day would either: a) make me a super paranoid/nervous parent, since seeing the worst situations might skew your perspective on the likelihood of them happening. Or b) I would get burned out loving/parenting other peoples' kids and wouldn't be able to be as snuggley/lovey with my own.

So, PICU/peds nurses who are parents, are these reasonable fears? How has being a peds nurse changed you (for better or worse) as a parent?


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I did NICU for 8 years and PICU for 7 before moving to psych. I had no issues maintaining boundaries between my work and home life. My kids are 13 and 10 now. I had my first pregnancy during my second year in NICU...and had a premie!!

While I have always cared for and about my patients, I never have loved any of them in 15 years. I don't know if that's normal or not, but it's the truth. They weren't my kids. My love has always been reserved for my own kiddos.

Luckily, my job never made me more paranoid or turned me into a "helicopter" parent. It did make me stricter with common sense type safety issues; car seats, helmets, padding, swimming...no sledding into traffic...but if you enjoy peds, go for peds. I always liked it.

Best of luck

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I'm not a PICU nurse but a Peds ED nurse. I worked for just over 2 years before having my first child. When I was pregnant or newly postpartum, the sad stuff was definitely harder to deal with, and especially after my child I was having issues with anxiety partly due to postpartum depression/anxiety but also because you just have a lot of really specific knowledge about what can go wrong and the consequences of that (my kids sit down to eat candy and I still quarter grapes for them to eat). I started on antidepressants and anxiolytics PRN when I started having intrusive thoughts about my first child dying. I do have pre-existing issues with depression and anxiety so while the combo of Peds ED nursing and having kids and postpartum hormones was definitely a factor, I don't think it can take the whole blame.

HOWEVER. I know that having my own children has made me a better pediatric nurse (I certainly don't consider it a requirement for others, just that it improved my practice) and once I took care of my mental health, being a pediatric nurse makes me a better mom. I know what I can manage at home, when I do need a second set of eyes on them or higher level of care. I know how to evaluate the specialists they need and advocate for the best care for them. And I truly love what I do and having a passion outside of the home makes me a better parent.

I also went through periods of not wanting children, and working in pediatrics made me appreciate the joy and silliness and resiliency of children.

I do know that not everyone has that experience and know that some people who choose to work with children decide that they give enough to their patients or students to fulfill any desire they might have had for children of their own. And there are shifts where I come home and find my kids and cuddle them extra hard because I just had a very heartbreaking reminder that nothing is guaranteed in life, not even the health, safety or lives of children.

But I love what I do. I love being a Peds nurse and I love being there to make a difference in the lives of the children and families who come to me on their worst (or even just a cruddy) day. I love the variety and challenge of adjusting to different ages and developmental needs, love educating and reassuring and comforting families, am pretty skillful at defusing tense and angry parents. And in my current job, I love acting as a pediatric resource to the nurses with less pediatric experience. I don't have trouble maintaining boundaries although I did bend them once.

I had a shift from hell the other night with no lunch and no time to pee until 10 hours in to my shift and went home smiling because even though it was exhausting, I knew I'd done important work, advocated for my patients, had some hugs and smiles and gave out a ton of stickers.

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