Pediatric nursing is a nurse’s specialty and is defined as health care provided to children from birth up to the age of 18 years old, typically under the direction of a physician.
Pediatric nurses often work in hospitals and are usually shift workers, which means that they can provide 24-hour coverage for their patients.
They may also be involved with research or teaching at colleges or universities, and some may specialize in pediatric intensive care units.
Working with Children as a Nurse
If you are a nursing student and you are considering working with children, there are a few nurse specialties that can fit your interests and comfort level.
The good news is that many of these specialties have very little in common, so you won’t necessarily be working with the same people or facing the same challenges.
Here are a few of the specialties that you may want to consider:
- Pediatric Emergency Department Nursing – This specialty helps you work as part of a team that is caring for children who are having medical emergencies.
- Family Nurse Practitioner – You could be a part of the care provided to children by a nurse practitioner or NP who is specially trained in treating children’s problems.
- Pediatric Critical Care Nurse – This specialized area can offer you the opportunity to move from an emergency room environment to a hospital environment where you will be working alongside highly skilled experts who are able to treat many serious illnesses.
- Pediatric Nursing – You will enjoy working in various areas of this nursing profession, including pediatrics and neonatal intensive care units, as well as pediatric surgery wards.
Pediatric Nursing Education and Requirements
Pediatric nurses must have a combination of two different certifications when they decide to pursue their career in the field.
One of these certifications is the certified nursing assistant (CNA), which can be obtained by only working for a period of no less than one year.
The other certification that you may need to acquire is the registered nurse (RN) certification.
Advice for Those Considering a Career as a Pediatric Nurse
If you’re considering going into pediatrics, it’s important to be aware of the challenges.
Pediatric nurses work with children who are physically ill, scared and going through hard times.
So, before you make your decision to enter pediatrics nursing, here are a few things you should consider:
You’ll Need to Be Good at Communicating
Working with people who are unwell and in pain is difficult enough, but working with children who may not be able to communicate what they are feeling adds another level of complexity to the situation.
This means that when you become a pediatric nurse, you’ll need to be able to establish good communication with your patients and their parents.
You’ll also have to be able to provide emotional support or even know how to deal with a child who may be seriously ill and going through a lot of pain.
You’ll Be Helping Children Live Through Tough Times
Life can be difficult for children, especially children who are unwell.
They sometimes face challenges such as abandonment or even abuse in their lives, and they need brave nurses who can help them get through these issues while making them feel better about themselves.
Additionally, pediatric nurses can help parents by offering advice on how they can help their children to feel better or even providing additional resources.
You’ll Have the Help of a Team
While pediatric nursing can be quite challenging, you will have the help of a team of health professionals who are working hard to provide care to children.
Your work as a pediatric nurse may involve helping your patients to communicate their needs in a clear way so that their other healthcare providers can help them.
You may also need to take notes about how your patient is feeling or how they are responding to treatment or even getting them involved in the treatment process.
You’ll Be Working with Difficult Children
Children may be difficult to work with, especially when they have serious medical issues.
Some of these children are ill and may have serious illnesses or conditions.
They need doctors and nurses who are willing to give them the treatment that they need and show them compassion by providing them with the care that they need.
You’ll Be Working with Parents of Children Who Are Ill
You will be working alongside parents who want their children to get better as quickly as possible.
Parents may be frightened and anxious, especially if their child is seriously ill.
If you can help them to feel better about their child’s situation, then you are doing your job well as a pediatric nurse.
You will also have to provide them with advice and guidance so that they can make good decisions for their children, even when it comes to areas such as vaccinations.
You’ll Have to Be Compassionate (but Able to Be Tough and Firm)
You’ll need to be tough but firm with your patient who may be in pain or even crying out for help.
Children who are in pain aren’t always very good at communicating their needs.
If you have instilled the correct knowledge and skills in your patients, then you will be able to answer their questions about why they are hurting or why they need a certain treatment.
You’ll also need to be compassionate as you’re trying to help your children get better, but at the same time firm in the decisions that you make for them.
You’ll Learn About Medical Conditions Related to Children
One of the main things that pediatric nurses do is provide information on how they are feeling and what they may need from their medical professionals, so it’s important to be able to identify problems related to specific conditions.
You will also have to work with parents of children who are suffering from various illnesses as they may not understand what their child needs and why.
It’s a Challenging Profession
Pediatric nursing is a challenging profession, especially if you’re working with children who are in pain.
You’re going to face situations where you might feel like giving up or even feel like you’re not making progress.
Pediatric nurses also have to work with people who are very challenging and can be frustrating.
Patients aren’t always good at communicating what they need, and this can frustrate health professionals.
You’ll Need to Have a Good Sense of Humor
Working in pediatrics is more than just a job.
Parents and children are going to look up to you as their medical professional.
As a pediatric nurse, they’re going to be expecting you to have the answers that they need, as well as provide emotional support when they’re feeling scared or worried about their child’s health.
You’ll Need to Work Long Hours
Pediatric nurses need to be willing to put in long hours, especially if they’re working with children who are sick or even unwell.
Pediatric nurses often need to care for adults and children whose ages may range from infants and children to teenagers.
The pediatric nurse’s job usually involves staying on top of the treatment process even though their patient’s condition may be stable for a while.
The Mental Health Challenges of Working as a Pediatric Nurse
Being a pediatric nurse can be quite stressful as you’re always dealing with patients who are unwell.
You can run into situations where you feel like you’re not making progress or maybe that it’s getting harder to help your patient get better.
These issues can really affect your mental health as a nurse and as a person.
Pediatric nurses are human; they’re going to get tired, even if they’re working with patients who are experiencing some of the worst symptoms that they could possibly have.
You’ll need to be prepared mentally for:
- Seeing children who are suffering from serious illness and injuries.
- Dealing with parents who are scared or worried about what’s happening to their child.
- Keeping up with your workload and having to take on more patients.
- Being the expert who holds all of the knowledge that you could possibly have about your profession.
- Working long hours and having to be ready to deal with unwell patients for as long as it takes for them to get better.
- Being around sick children and people who are lashing out.
If you like working with children, are sensitive to their needs, and want to help them and their families navigate through all of the health challenges that they could possibly have, then becoming a pediatric nurse may be a good choice for you.
The more time that you spend caring for these children, the better you’ll become at handling the mental and emotional stresses of the job.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a career where you can make a real difference in people’s lives, then pediatric nursing may be just what you need to do.