Becoming a pediatric nurse is a remarkably fulfilling job — not just within the medical profession but within any industry. From reassuring frightened children and their patients to witnessing the transformation a sick child undergoes on her path toward health, few careers can pack as much meaning into a day as being a nurse who provides care for sick and injured children.
Children have health needs that are quite different from adults’. More vulnerable to illness and less able to defend themselves, children are also less adept at explaining how they feel or knowing when something is wrong. For the nurse who chooses pediatrics, helping these little ones find their path to wellness can provide for a remarkably high-quality work life. Of course, working with children in a medical setting also provides its own brand of challenges, and some can be truly heart-rending. Here is a closer look at the highs and lows involved in working as a pediatric nurse.
When a child is admitted to the hospital or goes in for a doctor’s appointment, it’s never just the child that a pediatric nurse sees. Parents are an essential part of providing quality care to sick or injured children, and many times, their own stress over their child’s well-being must be tended to in order to provide the best care for the child. Helping parents calm down, relax and assist in their child’s treatment is a very rewarding part of being a pediatric nurse.
It’s truly heartbreaking to see a child in fear or in pain, and on a daily basis, a pediatric nurse must ready herself for that reality. That being said, as children work through their illnesses and injuries, there are few rewards that feel as good as that of seeing a sick child finally begin to get well. From the rehabilitation that follows an accident to the life-giving change that can follow a bone marrow transplant, being part of the team that sees a child through from daunting beginning to healthy and happy end is always a highlight.
Witnessing Family Conflict
The stress of illness, financial worries and navigating a complex medical system rarely brings out the best in people. When children are involved, the difficulties it can create within a family can be hard to witness. Because pediatric nurses spend more time with patients than most of the rest of the medical staff, they are privy to the family conflict in a way that other medical care providers may not be. A pediatric nurse has to remain professional within sometimes awkward or tense situations, which — if it occurs with any regularity — can make for a taxing time at work.
While it’s rarely discussed whenever someone inquires about the profession, a lot of nursing involves the care of the body’s most intimate needs. Cleaning up a patient’s waste, moving a patient from a bed to a wheelchair, bathing, tending to wounds — all this and more is a regular part of a nurse’s daily work, and when it comes to pediatric nursing, it all takes place around and within a much smaller body. Children produce less waste and are easier to move than adults. It may not be the most acknowledged reason a pediatric nurse loves his job, but it certainly is one of them.
Fun is Part of the Job
Children — even sick or injured children — are fun, silly, light-hearted and looking for a reason to laugh. Hospital and other clinical settings can often feel drab and serious, but if you get to do your work on the pediatric wing, you’ll find yourself immersed in color, jokes, and laughter. For the nurse who doesn’t want to take even the serious parts of life too seriously, getting to tease a child suffering from mono or tonsillitis is a real pleasure. Singing, dancing, puppets, stories, games, pranks — there is almost no end to the fun a pediatric nurse can have with her young patients.
Pediatric nursing is not for everyone. It requires an empathy and compassion that can withstand the sorrow of seeing and caring for sick children — some of whom don’t recover — and remain intact. On a difficult day, pediatric nursing can be hard to endure. However, if you love children, are passionate about nursing, enjoy a challenge and are able to withstand stress and heartache, it just might be the most fulfilling path you can take.