Starting as a new grad in peds, but still feel awkward around kids :-/


Like most new grads in this market, I had to take the first job that was offered to me whether it was a specialty I wanted or not. I actually interviewed for a general med-surg new grad position, but one of managers on the panel interview was the pediatrics nurse manager. She decided she wanted me on her floor, and that is where I got an offer!

I am excited to work with children. I really love children. But my experience with them is limited, and I honestly mostly feel nervous and awkward when I am around them. Babies are fine (I've always liked L&D and post partem), but I don't get little kids! I worked on an adult medical floor as a CNA during nursing school, so I always felt I had an extra leg up in terms of feeling comfortable with my patients compared to other new grads, but now I am back at square one!

Does anyone have some advice for a new grad pediatric nurse? Any ideas on just how to plain old talk to kids? Ideas for good books/reading before I start my position? I truly am excited to start in this field even though it isn't my first choice, so any help would be appreciated.

Also, if after a year I decide I want to move into a different area of nursing, where would people recommend I set my sights? I've always been interested in oncology. Will my peds oncology experience translate to adult oncology? I also have interests in maternity and NICU. And adult critical care too!

Specializes in ER, progressive care. Has 7 years experience.

I'm interested in this, too. I work in progressive care that was an adult floor but now we take peds - they wanted to move them to our floor because the floor is brand new. Taking peds is a choice of the RN and at the moment I opted out, but my manager made a good point - when they interview nurses, they are making sure they have some peds experience. I like kids, and I feel like working with both adults and peds will make me more marketable in the long run because mixed adult/peds floors seems to be more common nowadays. My issue is I am very awkward around kids, too. I also don't remember a whole lot from peds in nursing school, but I just bought a book to review all of that information. Most of the kids on my floor are admitted with asthma, bronchiolitis, RSV and dehydration.

There's some great advice on the board here that I used. I try to think about the developmental stage of the child as well as my awareness of pop culture for various ages and go from there. Listen to some Justin Bieber, watch Wonder Pets, Elmo's World and Dora. Try to remember things you liked to do at that age (ride your bike? play with friends? early favorite subjects?). It's something I'm still working on but it gets easier.

Don't forget that sometimes the best way to interact with a child is to not interact with them too much at all (stranger danger!) until you've spent some time talking with the parents first.

Always carry extra stickers or know where they are stocked on your unit. Don't lie about something hurting (and resist the urge to smack the parents who say crp like "if you don't stop crying that nurse is going to give you a needle") but be sensitive to how much prep time you offer before a painful procedure. For some ages, more time to think about what is coming makes the experience worse rather than better. I think you can also probably google kid-safe ways of terming things because some of the simplified words we use to describe procedures can be confusing to kids (I never call stretchers "stretchers" anymore, it's always a "bed," we've been advised not to say we're going to "stick" them or "run some tests", etc).

wooh, BSN, RN

1 Article; 4,383 Posts

Know Dora, Thomas, Justin Bieber, and whatever is showing on Disney.

Don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself, kids tend to like that.


2 Posts

Thank you all for your advice! I didn't realize I had gotten any response until now. Things are getting better and my patients seem to like me. I found out when I started that my floor is actually primarily women's med-surg with a small pediatric section, which i like a lot. I was always a serious kid who didn't get to do a lot of kid stuff growing up due to family situation, so it is hard to relate to kids still, but I am improving. And who knows, maybe they will turn me into the kid I never really was! :)


351 Posts

Specializes in Cath lab, acute, community. Has 11 years experience.

Oh gosh, when I started with paeds I was terrified, but honestly, you pick it up so quick. If you have a playful nature you will be a natural, and fake your confidence at the start, you will become less scared. The idea is to focus on the whole family. I go and introduce myself to the child first, and then to the parents. The parents often are more scared than the kids. Use "little" talk and explain what you are doing even if it seems stupid. For a 3 year old, let them see the thermometer before you pop it into their ear, tell them where its going and why you need to do it. If you are doing something painful, it helps if the child is on mum or dads lap for restraining and comfort, and then do the procedure. And also, especially for the chronic kids, let them have control over what they can (and incentives too) to ease the stress. Such as before a blood draw, "which bandaid do you want after the blood draw? We have 3, do you like the tweetie-bird one?"

Watch what happens around you, what the other nurses do. You won't be thrown into the deep end!


2 Posts

May I ask where you work? I've been trying to find a RN pediatric position for awhile now and I am getting frusterated. People are telling me to give up but pediatrics is my passion and on hsp websites for Peds positions it always "perfers peds exp." If I want a Peds position I feel like I mind as well go right into it. I am willing to work at any hsp in any state.

Specializes in Pediatrics. Has 11 years experience.
May I ask where you work? I've been trying to find a RN pediatric position for awhile now and I am getting frusterated. People are telling me to give up but pediatrics is my passion and on hsp websites for Peds positions it always "perfers peds exp." If I want a Peds position I feel like I mind as well go right into it. I am willing to work at any hsp in any state.

TaraPeds, you may have already found a position by now but in case you haven't I just started as a new graduate nurse in pediatrics at Shands at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. They are a teaching hospital and have 4 pediatric units. 4 of us out of the 8 nurses in our peds orientation this week were new graduates so they definitely hire new grads. I'm from Gainesville so if you'd like any more info just let me know.

Specializes in NICU. Has 2 years experience.

Hey Chelle84! Are you still a peds nurse at Shands? I was recently shadowing a director in trauma and can truly say Shands is by far the best facility I've been to. What are the requirements to a new nurse positions? I graduate with my ASN in December and would love to work there!


23 Posts

Specializes in Pediatrics. Has 2 years experience.

I remember being in that same boat. I left nursing school thinking I would go onto an adult med/surg floor at the VA. The hiring process was taking way too long so I applied for anything and was offered a job in pediatric home care.

It took a while for me to get comfortable but I found that if I try to interact with the kiddos on their level it helps. Finding out their likes and dislikes helps a lot. Across the board, most of my patients (who are usually 5 years old or younger) like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse but gradually grow out of it. Songs help too... I guess it helps that I look like I could be 16 and I've grown up with Disney stuff everywhere. I will occasionally act like a goof ball but I am avoiding cartoon scrubs like the plague.

Maybe one day I'll go back to adults but I think I'd have a hard time leaving kids - it's too much fun.