The 5 W’s of pediatric Nursing

When people find out that I do pediatric nursing, they often have a multitude of questions.

I would like to put it into perspective for those of you who have never done pediatric nursing by using the common “W”s to explain why my passion for nursing is in pediatrics.

WHO would want to be a pediatric nurse?

Who wants to work with sick, hurting, crabby, crying children all day, every day? I do! Anyone who’s day can be made by a smile, or even just a smirk, anyone who can tune out the shriek of a crying child to successfully place an IV, an NG, perform a painful procedure, anyone who loves the innocence and resilience of a young child, may be internally wired to be a pediatric nurse.

After being a pediatric nurse for over 5 years, I truly and strongly believe that only certain people have what it takes to be a nurse, and especially to be a pediatric nurse!!

WHAT do you do when a child doesn’t make it?

What does a child ever do to deserve a serious illness, a need for surgery, or death? The way I look at it, no one deserves serious illness, unexpected death, complicated and painful surgeries, or lengthy hospital stays.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it seems harder to understand when a small child, one who hasn’t even mastered the art of walking, talking, reading or writing, let alone living their life, loses a battle or is diagnosed with a life-long illness or disease, but children have a resilience that never ceases to baffle me! What do we, as pediatric nurses, do when a patient we’ve grown close to passes away?

We do the same thing as all nurses. We grieve, we ask “why”, we question ourselves and ask “what could I have done better or differently as their nurse”, and we cry. I have learned over the years, that it is indeed okay to cry with families.

It’s okay to cry while you hold, cuddle, and comfort your patients who may be only a few days, weeks, months, or years old. I’ve also learned that you look at how you made a difference in the life of that child and their family, what you may have done to make just one aspect of their hospital stay or life better.

WHEN did I know pediatric nursing was for me?

I’ve always loved children! I started babysitting at a young age, adored my younger cousins, worked at day cares all through high school and college, and knew the moment I stepped foot into the pediatric unit during my orientation for my clinical rotation in nursing school that peds was the unit I would work.

Many of my classmates cringed at the cries, the smells, and the dynamics of pediatric nursing, but those aspects  only made me grow more fond of what I knew would someday be not only my job, but my profession!  I guess I’ve always known, deep down, that I wanted to be a pediatric nurse!

About two months into my transition from general pediatrics to the pediatric ICU was when I knew, for a fact, that I had made the right decision. Since then, I have never had a doubt in my mind that I am where I belong!

WHERE do sick kids go? 

Do they go into the hospital with all the other patients? Do they go to the same radiology departments, operating rooms, etc. as the adult patients? In reference to the pediatric hospital that I am lucky enough to be employed at, the answer is NO! Sick kids come to the “Castle.”

Our free-standing children’s hospital is built to look like a castle, inside and out! Walk into the main lobby and look up to a ceiling gleaming with bright stars, a massive steam-heat fireplace that makes it feel warm and cozy all year round, a beaming balcony, an intriguing gift shop, knights in shining armor awaiting you at the door, child-friendly decorations everywhere the eye can see.

There are child-friendly paintings everywhere; in the elevators, in every patient room (inpatient and clinic rooms), in the radiology department, even ON the CT scanner! When children in this area come to the Castle, anything and everything is possible. Dreams can come true, miracles can happen. From playing in the specially designed castles in each play room, to the beautiful chapel with color-changing lights, to stars and ribbons on the floors throughout the hospital, it is a beautiful, bright, colorful, happy place to come!

WHY do I like pediatric nursing?

Isn’t it so sad and hard sometimes? Yes, pediatrics can be a very trying and challenging place to work, there’s no doubt about that. Why do I do it if it can be so hard? Because it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept.

The children I work with smile through chemotherapy infusing into their little bodies, they forgive you for poking them to get their IVs in for crucial medications and IV fluids minutes, sometimes seconds, after the task at hand is completed.

They light up the life of everyone around them without even knowing they’re doing it. Although it may take an entire 12 hour shift to get one smile from a fearful toddler, every minute of those 12 hours is worth the wait. In how many professions do you get to reward your clients or patients with prizes, stickers, scavenger hunts, bubbles, magical surprises behind tiny doors along the walls in the hallways to make a painful walk more bearable, and hugs, hugs, and more hugs?

The WHY of my pediatric nursing profession could go on for pages, but perhaps I’ll save that for another entry.

I guess my answer to my Who, What, When, Where, and Why of Pediatric nursing is simple.

I am a proud pediatric nurse WHO loves every minute of WHAT I do. It makes my day WHEN I see even one child smile in a situation WHERE most of us wouldn’t be able to find a smile to share. I never question WHY I’m doing what I am for my chosen profession. pediatric nursing is who I am!


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