There are skills that all healthcare providers need. They need to be knowledgeable and confident in their abilities. They also need a great bedside manner if they want to do their jobs well. But, for those looking to work in pediatric nursing, the skills needed are often a little different. Providing healthcare to children, and spending your time around sick children and their families can be very difficult, as well as fulfilling. If you are interested in this kind of career, you’ll need skills not only to care for and heal your patients, but also to protect yourself, and your own mental health and relationships. Here is a look at some of the skills that you need to work in pediatric nursing.
One of the most important parts of nursing, in any specialty, is communication. These skills need to be a little different when you work with children and their parents, but the core skills are the same.
To be a pediatric nurse, you need to have excellent listening skills. You’ll need to be able to listen carefully to children, parents and carers, and other medical staff. Often, you’ll be listening between the lines to find the information that you need.
You’ll also need to have great observation skills, which will enable you to spot changes to behavior and body language, which can sometimes be as important when it comes to gaining helpful information.
Verbal communications are crucial when you work with children, but so is the ability to change how you communicate based on who you are speaking to. You certainly wouldn’t speak to a doctor the same way as you’d speak to a very young patient, and you shouldn’t explain medical conditions and procedures to a child in the same way you would their parents.
Nurses need to be able to read charts, studies, and other sources of information quickly while extracting the information that they need, or that they need to pass on.
Writing is an often-overlooked element of communication, but in healthcare, writing skills are important. You should be able to write well, without jargon or hyperbole. You’ll learn the relevant skills that you need to read and write medical information if you study reputable pediatric acute care nurse practitioner programs via an institution like Baylor University.
Nurses need great judgment. They need to be able to process information quickly and make a judgment on how to progress. Sometimes, there will be tough choices to make, and upset carers and relatives to contend with.
Nurses need to be able to weigh up the options, make a choice, and communicate it with the relevant parties. They should also be confident enough to defend and explain their judgment calls when they need to and have the communication skills need to get other people on side.
Problem-solving skills and good judgment often work together when it comes to finding solutions to problems. Some of these problems will be to do with patients' needs. Others will be the day-to-day issues to do with administration or management. As a nurse, you need to be able to deal with all of the problems and find solutions that help patients, carers, and your fellow healthcare staff.
Children don’t always have an advocate. They can’t always express or communicate how they are feeling, or what they think about what is going on. They struggle to be heard, and sometimes, to be believed. In many cases, their parents are their advocates, but in some instances, parents are mistrustful, or too emotionally distressed to make the right call for their child.
Nurses need to be able to advocate for their younger patients. They need to understand them and speak for them, in their best interests, respectfully and calmly. This can be hard when the situation is highly emotional and is a very important skill for pediatric nurses to have.
Healthcare changes and evolves all of the time. There are new advancements and new research which change healthcare processes. Many providers find that the skills that they learned at school are outdated not long into their careers. Pediatric nurses should be willing to learn, sometimes from less experienced, newly qualified colleagues, and sometimes independently. This allows them to be the best nurses possible. Fortunately, the digital age has brought about the most welcomed changes in the learning process. Now you can get the PALS certification online and stress free by enrolling in a course that is flexible, efficient and, most importantly, up to date with current medical standards.
Empathy isn’t the same as sympathy. Anyone can see a sick child and feel sympathetic. Empathy means understanding and sharing other people's feelings, not just feeling sorry that they have them. Empathy enables nurses to build relationships with patients and carers and to connect with younger patients in a way that helps them to feel more comfortable.
Nursing is tough. You’ll work long shifts, and always have a lot to do. Nurses often have more patients to care for than doctors, and will spend more time with their parents and carers. To be a great nurse, you need to be able to manage your time and organize your to-do lists. This enables you to provide better care, but it also makes your days easier and reduces your stress levels.
One of the hardest parts of being a pediatric nurse is switching off. No empathetic person can spend their days with sick children without it affecting them on a personal level. It’s completely normal to go home upset after a tough day. However, it’s essential that you learn to detach. You want to be able to switch off when you get home, and have the energy to practice self-care.
You’ll also need to build a fantastic support network, filled with people that you can talk to, and be honest with about how you are feeling. These are the people that will pick you up and keep you going.
Working in pediatric nursing can be life-changing. You’ll have some incredible experiences and meet some fantastic people. But it’s difficult. The work is challenging and having these skills will help you to thrive in a tough environment, being the best you can be for both your patients and yourself.