What is pediatric nursing?
Pediatric nursing, which is also known as child-health nursing, is a field of medical practice and nursing that focuses on providing wholesome medical care to children ranging from infants to adolescents. Being one of the most versatile nursing specialties both in variety and scope, it brings together almost every element of medicine, including the Neonatal Intensive Care and pediatric fields, preventive community services, holistic care of physically handicapped children, and intensive care and treatment for children. For this reason, pediatric nursing encompasses the model of multidisciplinary fields and teams in providing an integrated medical care package for children. Pediatric nursing works hand in hand with other interrelated medical specialties like surgery, anesthetics, and obstetrics, and with other professionals like physiotherapists, social workers, teachers, speech therapists and nurses.
Among the major concepts of pediatric nursing is the principle of providing family-centered health care. Since parents, guardians, and siblings are greatly involved in providing care to children, pediatric nurses closely work with families during the process of providing medical care. This involves supporting families by administering care that cannot be performed by families to the children. It also involves educating families with ill or disabled children on ways to administer regular caring activities. The reason why pediatric nurses regularly share their experiences and skills with parents, siblings, and other family members who participate in administering care to children is to instill confidence and ability in family members in effectively looking after the children, who are taught to know when to suspend or proceed in administering a given type of care.
Because the bodies and minds of children work differently from those of adults, the beginning of disease-related symptoms can be quite extreme and sudden. This is because they are still young and the effect of injury or illness can be confusing and scary based on their growth and developmental stage. For this reason, pediatric nurses are trained to help and understand the children and provide them with the right care that will meet their particular situations and needs.
Duties of a pediatric nurse
Pediatric nurses have various and wide-ranging duties from providing intensive care to newborn babies experiencing breathing difficulties to administering care to teenagers with fractured limbs. Other duties can involve managing distress that may be caused by a mixture of emotions that are commonly seen in children with certain illnesses and conditions, such as anxiety, panic, anger, guilt and powerlessness. In such cases, pediatric nurses work together with families in managing the crisis. Some of the places in which pediatric nurses work include in pediatric wards in hospitals and in pediatric doctor offices.
Pediatric nurses who are placed in emergency hospital departments perform various functions such as starting IVs, performing full body assessments and analyzing vital signs such as blood pressure, respiratory rate, heart rate, and temperature. Other related duties include collecting urine by performing catheterizations, collecting stool samples and performing eye examinations. Pediatric nurses can also give medications by mouth, rectally, intramuscularly or intravenously. They also perform CPR, engage in parent-patient counseling and health care teachings, help with broken bones, and administer blood among other duties.
In some instances, pediatric nurses have to engage other doctors and physicians (pediatric) in their duties. This includes providing a comprehensive report detailing the treatment plan offered to a child to the concerned doctors, which will in turn enable them to complete the treatment course. They are also required to rightly interpret pathology results from laboratories in order to determine the health progress of a child.
Medical tools used in pediatric nursing
The fundamental tools used in pediatric nursing are the children’s eyes, ears and hands. This assessment is very crucial in determining the overall health of a child. For this reason a stethoscope is used to determine the condition of the lungs, abdomen and heart. Also, a sphygmomanometer, which is a pressure cuff, is used to determine the blood pressure. A thermometer is used for obtaining the patient’s body temperature. CP (cardiopulmonary) monitors are used to track the respiratory rate and heart rate of a patient. Eye tests to determine vision are done with a Snellen chart. These are among the basic tools used by pediatric nurses.
Educational and training requirements for pediatric nursing
The first step in becoming a pediatric nurse is by first becoming a nurse. To become a certified and registered nurse, one requires a bachelor’s degree in nursing sciences. An exam that tests the skills and knowledge of a qualified nurse needs to be taken before being awarded the necessary certification. After being certified as a nurse, one can then begin to take specialized training in pediatric nursing.
To do so, one can apply to particular medical schools which offer this training. On the other hand, one can also undergo pediatric internship programs offered by certain health facilities or hospitals. Research, classroom lectures, case studies and clinical training are offered in these internships. Once this training is completed, one will be required to take another exam in order to be certified as a pediatric nurse.
Certified pediatric nurses can also further specialize in specific pediatric fields though additional training, learning and practice. Examples of pediatric specialties include dermatology, gastroenterology, cardiology, neurology, orthopedics, and oncology.