Pediatric nursing is a nursing specialty that deals with children under the age of 18. Because their bodies are still growing and developing, children have different needs that should be attended to by specialized nurses and doctors. Pediatric nurses must have a love for children, the smarts to understand their disease process, the therapeutic communication skills to relate to their parents and the emotional resilience to see them in difficult situations. Pediatric nursing is an art form and a science.
Kids need to play. Play is a child's work, and a sick child is no exception. A pediatric nurse must know what kind of play would help make the patient happy. Babies need to be held and cuddled. Toddlers love bubbles and stickers. Older kids need contact with their friends. Also, each age has its own distinct developmental characteristics. A two year old is a very different person than a five year old. A pediatric nurse has to know how to treat these children differently, according to what they can handle and understand.
With the cognitive development differences, there are also the obvious physical differences between children of different ages. Medications must be carefully checked for the correct dosage because a child's body is much more sensitive to medication. Different disorders can occur at different ages, which requires a high level of knowledge from the nurse and health care team. A quality nursing education will provide the foundation for this level of competence. Further certifications are available to continue to build on this foundation. Advanced degrees are also available to become a pediatric nurse practitioner.
When a pediatric nurse takes care of a child, the family is also a huge part of the job. Dealing with parents who are very concerned for the health of their child requires diplomacy and sensitivity on the part of the nurse. They may be frustrated, worried, angry, and sad, and the nurse can help to reduce the stress of a hospital visit by allowing them to express their concerns and emotions.
Even though working with parents may be difficult, it is even harder to treat children without parents who live in orphanages or care centers. Pediatric nursing exposes nurses to situations where children are very sick, possibly terminally ill. It is heartbreaking to see children with asthma struggling to breathe, or losing their hair from chemotherapy. The nurse must be emotionally able to continue providing care, cheerfully, in the face of hardship.
Pediatric nurses find this all worth it because they love children. They want to be the ones to find the sticker that brings a smile to a patient's face. They are amazed by the way a child can continue to fight to survive, and they want to fight along with them.
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