What Types of Problems Do Pediatric Nurses Face? (2024)

Pediatric nurses, who specialize in the care of children and adolescents, face many challenges in their work. They may work in general or specialized pediatric units, pediatric intensive care or outpatient pediatrics. Some of these are problems common to all nurses, such as the stress of working in health care or the risk of contracting an infectious disease. Others are specific to pediatrics, such as performing uncomfortable nursing procedures on children who don't understand what's happening. The hardest part of being a pediatric nurse is coping when a child dies.

Education and Experience Requirements

Problems in pediatric nursing include the lack of comprehensive training in nursing school. Many nursing programs focus more on adult nursing or specialties such as surgery. At the same time, pediatric nursing procedures have become increasingly complex as the number of children diagnosed with a chronic or severe illness rose a couple percentage points between 2017 and 2020, according to USA Today.

An inexperienced nurse may find working in pediatrics difficult and need to seek out specialized instruction to acquire greater proficiency. For example, nurses with at least 1,800 hours of experience in a pediatric facility may enhance their skills and confidence through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB). Earning a Certified Pediatric Nurse credentials from the PNCB involves studying for a qualifying exam and earning a passing score.

When Children Die

Some specialty areas or kinds of patients may be more difficult for pediatric nurses than others, such as pediatric oncology – the care of children with cancer. Oncology is one area where pediatric nurses must deal with the death of children on a regular basis. Pediatric oncology nurses often suffer from stress in the work environment and may burn out or suffer from compassion fatigue. Pediatric nurses must learn to cope with loss and separate work from their personal life to protect their mental health, Indeed Career Guide says.

Parental Stress

When a child is ill, parents are often stressed. The person who is most likely to deal with stressed parents day after day is the pediatric nurse. If a child is sick enough to need intensive care, the parents’ stress can often reach nearly unmanageable levels. The stressors that parents experience are not necessarily what the nurses perceive as stressors, and that nurses could actually add to or reduce parents’ stress by the ways in which they interact with them.

Inflicting Pain

Difficult issues in pediatric nursing include working with frightened and confused children. Inflicting pain on a baby may be one of the most difficult tasks a pediatric nurse faces. Many procedures, especially in critical care units, can be upsetting or painful for a child and stressful for parents. The pediatric nurse might need to restrain a child during a painful procedure or actually perform a painful procedure such as a dressing change. Even in an outpatient setting, care such as immunizations are often traumatizing to children. The pediatric nurse must be able to deal with causing pain in these situations in order to help the child.

What Types of Problems Do Pediatric Nurses Face? (2024)
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