Pediatric Nursing is not a field for the faint of heart. You will have times of total heartbreak, and when you think you've seen the worst, a miracle will happen and a child thought to be dying makes a total recovery. You must love children, but be strong enough to handle it when things don't go well and there will be many times they don't.
If you want to pursue Pediatric Nursing and can handle the intensity and emotions, here are some things to consider.
- Education: An Associate's degree with additional classes in child development or a BS in Nursing from a four year college. You must be eligible and pass the RN licensing exam. Requirements may vary by state. Perhaps some work in a day care or school while taking your courses will be helpful.
- Continuing Education: Attend every in-service you can find on child development, work with patients from newborns to adolescents, and communicate with children regularly.
- Experience: After you get licensed, find a job in a pediatricians office or general practitioners office to get some on-the-job experience. If you can get a position in the pediatric unit of a hospital, that would be great. It will give you the best experience. If you want to go on to cancer or neonatal, that's the place to get the knowledge.
What to Expect Daily
Looking at a Pediatric Nursing job on a daily basis depends entirely upon your position. If you're in a PICU, it changes daily and minute-by-minute. In PICU as a rule, you only have one or two patients at a time. The are several reasons for this. The best one being to provide the best quality of care for both the child and the parents. When you're dealing with children in a PICU, the parents become your patients too because of the stress and fear they're feeling. Some responsibilities include going over treatment plans for the children under your care; checking notes from the previous shift; giving medications and checking emergency supplies. Ask the parents if they've noticed any changes or differences in their child.
In a pediatricians office, things for the most part are less intense except for the occasional bout of sheer terror as most children are afraid to go to the doctor. It will be up to you to calm and console them. One day may be devoted to newborns and toddlers. The next day may be teenagers. Children will arrive at the office with a variety of problems from the flu to allergies, bad cuts to broken bones. You'll eventually see it all.
It takes a certain personality to be a Pediatric Nurse. Not only do you need to love children, you must also be extremely strong and compassionate. There will be many tears, but if one child is saved, it will be well worth it. Pediatric Nursing has one of the biggest burnout rates of any occupation. There's only so much grief a person can handle.
If you're thinking about becoming a Pediatric Nurse, you should talk to several in your area or online. It's one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, IF you can handle it.
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