January 09 2017

Why You Should Become A Pediatric Acute Care Nurse

While there are many fields of nursing, not many are as rewarding as working in the pediatric field. Parents, or carers of young children, or even those of you who have young children in your lives will know, having a child that has an acute sickness or has a chronic illness is one of the most heartbreaking things any of us can go through, but having a well trained professional in charge of care can make all the difference.

Pediatric patients can present their own set of problems when it comes to professionals delivering care. More than once, the field of pediatrics has been likened to veterinary medicine. Within the veterinary field, professionals are looking for non-verbal cues that their patient is in pain or uncomfortable, or they are looking towards the primary caregivers for a detailed history of the complaint. These similarities cross over into pediatrics, where professionals will be similarly working with patients and families.

The Role of a Pediatric Nurse
Pediatric nurses are Registered nurses who specifically work with children. While you may immediately assume this to be infants and young children, the age of pediatric patients ranges from newborns right up to the age of 18 in most states in 21 in others.

Patients under the care of a pediatric nurse will present a range of healthcare issues. These could be acute sicknesses like appendicitis or perhaps gastroenteritis, or they may be more chronic conditions such as diabetes or even cancer. For chronic conditions, such as cancer, it is quite common for patients to be under more specialized care.

As well as working directly with patients, one of the most critical roles of a pediatric nurse is to be able to work with and effectively communicate with the patient’s family. There are two crucial stages within this communication loop, accessing the information about the patient (what happened, when did it happen, how did it happen, etc.) and continuing care.

For most patients, continuing care will be brief, and they will return to health quickly. Still, for other patients -such as chronic care patients- nurses must work with the patient and the patient’s family to ensure that their care and/or recovery is properly organized to ensure that they achieve the best possible health result.

Training to Work in Pediatrics
There are many training programs you can take to work within the pediatric field. Still, it’s quite common, taking part in one of the many pediatric acute care nurse practitioner programs, to be offered the option of specializing in just acute care or a dual acute and chronic care programs.

The Nurse Practitioner programs are usually a Masters or Post Masters (Doctorate) level of education. The doctorate nurse practitioner (DNP) qualification is the same level as a Ph.D. program. Still, it focusses more on the clinical and practical work (hence the title practitioner) rather than the research and academic side that a Ph.D. program would entail.

Why Work with Kids?
Choosing to work in pediatrics can be an excellent opportunity to provide care to children and adolescents that really need it. It is estimated that approximately one million children do not have access to a pediatrician, meaning the work of adequately trained pediatric nurses is an even more vital role as the nation’s health becomes more and more specialized.

That is not to say, however, that working with children will always be easy. Children require a strong level of trust, as well as patience, to be willing to go along with things that they may not understand or may even fear.

As adults, we understand that things like vaccines against measles are vital to stop another outbreak, but for a child, this is too broad and too difficult a concept for them to grasp. It is the nurse’s job to ensure that the benefits of such things are explained in a way that the child agrees and trusts that it is the right decision, even if they do not fully understand the broader social implications.

As part of your nursing practitioner training, you will learn the fun and clever techniques to win over your younger patients, as well as the ability to distract children when it is necessary. It is not only children that pediatric nurses will need to communicate with. Adults who care for children will need their own methods of communication to win their trust and to explain quite complex medical terminology.

While children and adults are a huge aspect of the pediatric nurse’s job, working with adolescents can provide another layer of interest and difficulties. Speaking to adolescents the same way one may speak to an infant or young child is likely to ensure they won’t share anything with you, but learning to communicate on their level and gaining their trust will be absolutely vital when it comes to discussing very real issues such as teenage pregnancy, safe sex, drugs, and alcohol abuse. Teens and adolescents will also make up many chronic care cases suffering from illnesses and conditions such as heart conditions, diabetes, arthritis, eating disorders, and many more.

A Rewarding Career
It is clear from this that the pediatric nurse needs to understand how to communicate on many levels, from infant right up to adult, and in many different settings. Communication and compassion are perhaps the most essential skills a pediatric nurse can perfect.

The career progression for a pediatric nurse is undoubtedly something that seems fairly set in stone. It’s estimated that Registered Nurse jobs are set to increase by 12% through to the year 2028, this is in part due to a shortage of qualified nurses across the board, and also due to the aging population, we now find ourselves in.

Pediatric nurses will be ever more needed in the field of medicine. The earth’s population grows year on year, and we are facing an ever-healthier globe. Even in some of the poorest countries across the world, the infant mortality rate is steadily getting lower, meaning more families are having healthy children, which is the fact that pediatric nurses are especially proud of!


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