Pediatric nursing is part of the nursing profession, specifically revolving around the care of neonates and children up to adolescence. The word, pediatrics, comes from the Greek words 'paedia' (child) and 'iatrike' (physician). 'Paediatrics' is the British/Australian spelling, while 'pediatrics' is the American spelling.
Nursing functions vary regionally, by individual education, experience, and individual career goals. Functions include the administration of procedures and medicines according to prescribed nursing care plans. These nurses observe vital signs and develop communication skills with children and family members, as well as with other medical personnel. Supporting children and their families is one component of direct nursing care.[clarification needed] Awareness of the concerns of children and parents, physical presence at times of stress, and helping children and family members cope are other common functions.
Neonatal nurses specialize in working with the youngest patients. Neonatal nursing focuses on providing care and support for newborn babies delivered prematurely or who are suffering from health problems such as birth defects, infections, or heart deformities. Many neonatal nurses work in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) providing specialized medical care to at-risk newborns.
- Inadequate respiratory function
- Poor control of body temperature
- Increased tendency to bleed
- Poor resistance to infection
- Poor nutrition
- Immature kidneys and skin
Neonatal nurses employ medical techniques, including the use of incubators. Essentially, the incubator "provide[s] proper heat, humidity, oxygen, and mist... and protection from infection." The medical apparatus provides essential medical care for at-risk newborns.
Pediatric nurses are expected to provide a quick response to stressful circumstances in life-threatening situations. Key features of pediatric emergency nursing include:
- Handling multifaceted trauma, injury or illness cases without letting the patients succumb to the urgency of the situation
- Stabilizing patients
- Quickly diagnosing conditions and providing on-spot solutions
- Administering appropriate medications to address pain
- Upgrading skills and knowledge
- Remaining patient and caring for the traumatized families accompanying the patient
- Maintaining equanimity around patients who do not improve.
Pediatric nurse practitioners
Pediatric nurse practitioner must attend school for at least two years after earning a bachelor's degree, pass an examination, and apply to their state board of nursing.
- Normalize the life of the child during hospitalization.
- Minimize the impact of the child's unique condition.
- Foster growth and development.
- Develop realistic, functional and coordinated home care plans.
- Respect the roles of the families.
- Prevent disease and promote health.
A registered nurse license is required. A registered nurse requires a Bachelor of Science (Nursing), a 3–4 years full-time investment. Once completed 12–18 months in a clinical setting is required followed by completing a graduate certificate in pediatric nursing.
The CPN (certified pediatric nurse) exam validates knowledge and expertise beyond the prerequisite Registered Nurse (RN) licensure. Eligible RNs may have a diploma, associate's degree, BSN, MSN, or higher nursing degree and must have a minimum of 1800 hours of pediatric nursing experience. Over 30,000 nurses actively held CPN certification as of April 15, 2021.
Training involves a mix of formal education and clinical experiences. Pediatric nurses can become certified in the field and may choose to further specialize. Students can enroll in an associate or bachelor's degree program. Some diploma programs offered exclusively through hospitals may also prepare students for the RN exam.
Southern and eastern Africa
Strengthening the pediatric nursing workforce has been recommended as a primary strategy to reduce under-five mortality in African nations. Children make up close to half the population in many African countries, but research suggests that children's nurses often make up less than 1% of the nursing workforce: a 2019 workforce survey found approximately 4,000 qualified children's nurses in South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi and Kenya. The majority (8/10) were in South Africa.
Pediatric nurses work in settings including doctor's offices and community-based settings to hospitals and critical care facilities. Pediatric nurses may assist pediatricians or work alongside them. Pediatric nurses offer primary care services such as diagnosing and treating common childhood illnesses and conducting developmental screenings. Acute care and specialty services are also available for the chronically ill. Some pediatric nurses and nurse practitioners specialize in areas such as cardiology, dermatology, gastroenterology or oncology.
Pediatric nurses are responsible for helping patients adapt to a hospital setting and prepare them for medical treatments and procedures. Nurses also coach parents to observe and wait for important signs and responses to therapies, to increase the child's comfort, and even to provide ongoing care.
Injury-prevention strategies and anticipatory guidance are provided via counseling. Helping the child or family solve a problem is often a focus, usually provided by advanced practice nurses or other experienced nurses.
The effective advocate nurse must be aware of the child's and the family's needs, the family's resources, and available health care services. Nurses help reinforce families to help them make knowledgeable choices about medical services and to act in the child's best interests.
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