Pediatric nurses are on a special mission to provide complete and quality care to all children. From infants to teens, this population can be most vulnerable and develop a variety of acute and chronic illnesses. Children are more susceptible to injuries and react differently to diseases than adults. Their health status can change quickly, requiring the keen eye of a pediatric nurse. Pediatric nurses must apply childhood growth and development knowledge to manage patients’ emotional needs and note deviations that might indicate problems.
A pediatric nurse not only cares for young patients but must gain the trust of their parents, who will be fearful and concerned about whether their child is receiving the best care possible. Pediatric nurses must educate young patients on their diagnosis and teach parents how they can prevent complications. Communication is a crucial tool for the pediatric nurse as patients may be too young or reluctant to tell health providers what they are feeling.
Pediatric nurses are dedicated caregivers to our younger population and often receive advanced training to improve their skills or specialize in a particular area such as pediatric oncology or pediatric rehab. Others become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) as pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) or clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) in pediatrics.
Pediatric nurses perform some of the same activities as other nurses, but their focus is the care of children.
General activities may include:
- Taking patient histories
- Recording vital signs
- Administering medications or well-child immunizations
- Doing physical exams
- Monitoring lab results and response to therapy
- Alerting the medical team to any significant changes that need attention
Pediatric nurses are involved in caring for the entire family, so they must excel in providing teaching and reassurance to parents.
Pediatric nurses who primarily work with disabled kids need to hone their knowledge of developmental delays. In contrast, one who works as a pediatric school nurse will sharpen their assessment skills to manage allergic reactions.
Pediatric nurses must be able to assess children accurately. Kids are not just little adults. They learn normal pediatric values for vital signs, lab work, and children’s expected response to treatments. They also need to know age-specific therapies such as needle size for injections or intravenous therapy catheters, which are smaller than those for adults.
One critical area is medications. Dosing for pediatric medications is based on the child’s weight, while in adults, doses are often based on age. Children must receive the proper dosing of their drugs, or irreversible harm can occur.