Pediatric Nursing

Pediatric nursing, otherwise called child health nursing is an area of nursing and medical practice that has particular focus on the provision wholesome to infants, children and adolescents, working with and supporting parents as partners in the care giving process.

This is one of the richest nursing specialties in both scope and variety, since it combines elements of almost the whole of medicine, encompassing the areas of Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care, holistic approach in the care of disabled children, preventative services in the community, intensive treatment of children and generally focusing on the child and the family, working to minimize the adverse effect of disease from the pre-term infant to the difficult adolescent to allow the child to live a normal life.

Thus, in Pediatric nursing, the concept of multidisciplinary teams is well advanced in the provision of an integrated package of care for the child, working closely with other related medical specialties such as Obstetrics, Anesthetics, and Surgery as well as other professionals such as Physiotherapists, nurses and Speech Therapists, teachers and Social Workers.

The profession has among its major principles the concept of family centered care with a major function of supporting the family by providing care that the family cannot perform as well as educating families on how to maintain their normal caring activities.

Because the minds and bodies of infants, children and adolescents work in different ways from those of adults, the onset of symptoms can be sudden and extreme and because they are still growing, the impact of the illness or injury on their development has to be taken into account as they can be scared or confused by such development. Hence their need of nurses who are trained to understand and help them manage their particular needs and situations.

Because children have parents and siblings who are all involved in different ways in their care, pediatric nurses work closely with their patients’ families as part of the caring process. Hence, one of the most essential aspects of the profession is how regularly nurses share their skills and experiences with the patient’s parents and others who share in looking after the children with the objective of instilling in the latter the confidence and ability to perform their caring role and knowing when to proceed or suspend a given line of care.

The job of pediatric nurses are various and range from intensive care of newborn babies with breathing problems to taking care of an adolescent with a fracture limb. They can also be involved in managing distress arising from a mix of emotions that often surrounds child illness such as panic, anxiety, anger, powerlessness, and guilt in which cases they can play a key part in helping families manage through the crisis. Pediatric nurses work in different places including in a hospital pediatric ward or in a pediatric doctor’s office.

Pediatric Nurses in an Emergency Department can perform a whole lot of functions such as starting IVs, obtaining vital signs (temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure), performing head to toe assessments, performing catheterizations to collect urine, collect stool samples, as well as basic eye exams. They can also administer medications (Intravenous, intramuscular, rectally, and by mouth), do a lot a parent and patient teaching, perform CPR, administer blood, help with splinting of broken bones, and a variety of other duties.

The basic tools used by pediatric nurses are their eyes, hands and ears. Assessment is very important in nursing so they use the stethoscope to listen to a child’s lungs, heart, and abdomen and use a blood pressure cuff (called a sphygmomanometer) to obtain their blood pressure and a thermometer to obtain their temperature. They also use cardiopulmonary (CP) monitors that keep track of the patient’s heart rate and respiratory rate as well as a Snellen chart to test their vision. Pediatric nurses use many other tools but these are the more common ones.

Pediatric nursing has evolved dramatically over the past two decades with the emergence of Specialties, closely allied to Academic Pediatrics. Community Child Health, with major focus on prevention and the broader issues of health within the whole childhood community which has become an important part of the responsibility of Pediatricians.

Although General Pediatrics remains the bedrock of the profession, there is a growing trend towards greater integration of the service, both between community and hospital and between secondary and specialist services. With the establishment of its own Royal College in 1996, Pediatrics finally came of age as a specialty on an equal pedestal with the other main specialties.

HOW TO BECOME A PEDIATRIC NURSE

One of the easiest ways to become a pediatric nurse is to seek employment in a hospital facility that serve pediatric patients where you can receive a specialized training there. Some hospitals offers a 3 – 6 month intern program for new nursing graduates. The program includes both classroom and clinical training in pediatrics.

After graduation, you can also sit the required exam to become a Certified Pediatric Nurse. There are also special classes that address Pediatrics. However, the important thing to note is that you must first become a nurse before you can commence your pediatric training in pediatrics.