A pediatric nurse is a professional who works with children from babies to teenagers in clinics, doctor’s offices and hospitals. The first step to becoming a pediatric nurse is to earn an undergraduate degree from a recognized nursing school. The next step is to get a job in the position of pediatric nurse; training programs for new nursing school graduates are available in most hospitals.
What do pediatric nurses actually do?
The precise job description of a pediatric nurse may differ depending on their place of employment, but most tasks tend to be uniform in nature. It is the responsibility of pediatric nurses to evaluate children to ensure their growth and behavior is appropriate for their age and look for any symptoms or signs of illness or other problems, such as abuse.
It is also up to a pediatric nurse to determine the urgency of their findings and take appropriate actions to ensure that children receive all the help they need.
Pediatric nurses serve as an advocate for the children in their care and gather all of the information they need to help them. This information may pertain to the patient, their family or the overall community in which they live in certain cases.
It is important for pediatric nurses to be able to build a relationship based on trust with their patients and ensure that all private information remains confidential.
Pediatric nurses are also responsible for helping children who are in pain or who are suffering from some type of illness. They will make an assessment of the patient’s condition and respond accordingly.
Pediatric nurses can administer tests, provide medicine and make suggestions such as forms of exercise or other activities that could help children become healthier and feel better. Pediatric nurses can also offer support to children who have a terminal condition.
What are the daily tasks pediatric nurses have to perform?
The day-to-day life of a pediatric nurse is never dull. Pediatric nurses will be caring for patients ranging from newborn babies to adolescents and are responsible for treating a wide array of injuries and illnesses. There are many tasks that they have to carry out each day.
Organizing patient loads
Pediatric nurses will be provided with their expected patient load at the start of each day and will have to organize how they spend their time, a skill that is of particular importance when working in institutions that can be very busy.
Gathering patient information
Pediatric nurses spend their days gathering important information about their patients, including their ages, conditions, symptoms, vital signs and progress.
Performing physical examinations
Pediatric nurses are responsible for performing physical examinations of children for their annual wellness checks and sports physicals.
Pediatric nurses are also tasked with administering vaccines, such as flu shots, to their patients, including teenagers and preteens.
Entering medical records
One of the daily tasks that a pediatric nurse will be expected to perform is entering information about patients into electronic medical records systems. This information can range from follow-up plans and medications to vital statistics.
It is important for all pediatric nurses to take care of themselves, and having a self-care routine during the day is an important component of their overall wellness. Pediatric nurses need to make sure that they take the time to enjoy a break, get some fresh air, eat regular meals and have a moment to collect their thoughts so they can continue to perform at their optimum level.
Making hospital rounds
In many hospitals, pediatric nurses will also have to make rounds with doctors as part of their everyday duties.
Checking on patients
There is a wide array of specialties that pediatric nurses can work in, and one of the daily duties involved in these specialties may be providing long-term care to patients.
As part of their day-to-day life, a pediatric nurse may have to check on a teenage boy with leukemia, a nine-year-old girl with a dislocated shoulder, a toddler with the flu, or a teenage girl with pneumonia, and their duties could include checking vitals and administering medications while keeping parents updated on their child’s condition.
Wrapping up their shift
Pediatric nurses have to end their day by filling in charts and inputting more data into electronic medical records.
Responsibilities of a pediatric nurse
Pediatric nurses will work very closely with doctors and manage various levels of primary care, including recording the medical history of patients. The cognitive and physical capacities of children are constantly developing, which means that pediatric nurses have to take a different approach and adjust their healthcare plans to ensure they align with the particular needs of each child.
Pediatric nurses also play an important role in the education of parents regarding best practices for the overall health of their child. They can help parents make healthier decisions at home for their children by supplying information such as early indicators of childhood disease and nutritional guidelines.
Pediatric nurses can also help to support parents by listening to their concerns about developmental milestones and behavior and offering advice. They can also refer families to resources that can be helpful to children, such as food assistance programs for those with food insecurity.
Another important aspect of the role of some pediatric nurses is public health education. They may attend health fairs and go to schools and non-profit organizations to offer immunizations, carry out physical exams and provide education to the community regarding prevention strategies.
How to become a pediatric nurse practitioner
There are a number of routes one can follow to pursue a pediatric nurse practitioner career. One popular option is a BSN to MSN-PNP-PC program like the one offered by Spring Arbor University. This online, faith-based program equips students with the clinical expertise they need to support children’s health via primary care.
Required skills for a nurse practitioner
There are several skills that a nurse practitioner needs to be effective in their role. Pediatric nurses must be able to engage with and speak to children on their own level while providing a balance between authority and comfort. It is not uncommon for children to be anxious in medical situations, which can make having a background in development very useful to a pediatric nurse.
It is also essential for pediatric nurses to have expertise in the potential impact of illness, injury and medication on children. They must be aware of the risks children can face related to their evolving stages of development and their small physical size and know how to take steps to prevent those risks to ensure the overall health of children.
Specialties of pediatric nurses
There are several different specialties in pediatric nursing that focus on the needs of particular types of patients. These include oncology, the pediatric intensive care unit and rehabilitation.
With rates of childhood cancer continuing to grow, pediatric oncology nurses play an important role in helping patients and their families as they fight these life-threatening illnesses.
Pediatric intensive care unit nurses offer pediatric care to severely injured or critically ill young patients who may be in need of invasive procedures and intensive monitoring.
Children who are permanently or temporarily disabled are often given physical rehabilitation to try to help them gain some sense of independence with their life skills as well as their physical movements.
There is a wide array of different specialties to choose from within the field of pediatric nursing, which allows pediatric nurses to expand their medical expertise within their focus on childhood healthcare and work in an area that interests them.
Pediatric nurses can work in a variety of different settings, with almost 60 percent working in children’s hospitals, according to figures from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board in the United States. These figures make a lot of sense given the number of young patients at these institutions who require the services of pediatric nurses.
The remainder of the workforce is spread out across outpatient care in community hospitals, doctor’s offices, home healthcare settings, major medical centers and schools.
Pediatric nursing is a very rewarding career that is ideal for those who wish to make a difference in the lives of children and their families.