Job Title: Pediatric Nurse
Type of Company: I work in a busy community hospital with about 200 beds (+ 36 nursery beds). The pediatric floor where I work has twenty beds. The hospital serves an ethnically diverse community.
Education: BSN, Fitchburg State College
Previous Experience: I worked in several medical centers in pediatric ICUs, as a staff and travel nurse. I worked in pediatric home care with the Visiting Nurses Association before taking a job in a community hospital on a pediatric floor, where I have worked for the past twelve years.
Job Tasks: A nurse's job varies from day to day. As a pediatric nurse, not only do I have to take care of children, but also parents and families. When a child is admitted to the hospital, it can be very stressful for the parents and family. Usually the child has been sick at home for at least a day or more, so everyone involved is sleep-deprived and it is our job to help them cope. We are able to do this by giving the parents as much information as we can about what is wrong with their child and by reviewing test results and explaining symptoms and treatments.
In pediatrics, you have to take care of a wide range of age groups: newborns, infants, toddlers, school-age children and adolescents. Each age group is treated differently, so this adds a lot of variety to your day. Y ou need to have good assessment skills too and learn to look for subtle changes in your patients. Unlike adults, children won't always tell you when something is wrong. It is our job to keep the doctors updated on changes in a patient's condition, and it is important to be an advocate for your patients.
Typically I will take care of children with respiratory problems, dehydration (vomiting and diarrhea), infections, children recovering from surgery, newborns withdrawing from drugs (if their mom was a drug addict), seizures, asthma... In certain situations children are not very cooperative and this can make my life difficult. They usually don't understand what is going on.
A shift can be slow, steady or extremely hectic, with frequent admissions. Our patients can come to us from the emergency room, from surgery or from a local physician. When the patient is admitted there is a lot of paper work that needs to be completed, tests that need to be carried out, assessments that need to be done and a plan of care to be executed.
I shouldn't forget to mention, that in addition to everything else, I am also involved in unit and hospital-based committees and boards.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Being a pediatric nurse is very rewarding. Children are so great to work with. Most children, regardless of age, want to get better and go home and they will work hard at it. There is a lot of teaching I can do to help the families; in that and other ways I can make a difference.
The worst part of my job is dealing with children who are dying. Although is doesn't happen frequently, it's still part of the job. On occasion working with physicians can be difficult too. Nurses have so much responsibility: pediatric patients get better fast but also can get very sick very fast, so we have to be always on our toes. Dealing with parents and families can also be hard, parents don't always make good decisions for their children and it is hard to watch.
Job Tips: While in school, find work in a medical setting. While there, involve yourself in anything you can.
When first getting out of school find a hospital that offers a good new graduate orientation and take advantage of any learning situation you can. Ask lots of questions. Read up on anything you don't understand. You will never know everything but it takes a good year to feel really comfortable as a nurse.
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