What Does Pediatric Nursing Mean in Medical Terms?

Challenges for Nurses,Challenges for Nursing Assistants,CNA,Healthcare Careers,LPN,RN
Written by
Calvin Henninger
December 7, 2022
pediatric nurse

People in every stage of life need medical care from time to time—from the newest newborn to the very elderly. Of course, the care required for a nearly eighty-year-old patient will be very different from the care needed for an eight-month-old, which in turn is very different from the care needed for a middle-aged patient. 

Most patients being seen in medical facilities are somewhere between eighteen and fifty years old. But due to various factors, physical and other, both ends of the age spectrum require highly specialized care.

Patients at either end of the age spectrum tend to experience a specific set of common ailments and require special forms of care when they come in for a visit. In this guide, we’ll be covering the basics of the specialty that covers younger patients: pediatric care.

This specialty is not for everyone, but if you’re interested in learning what it means and how to be successful with it, read on!

Let’s get started.

What Does Pediatric Mean?

Simply put, “pediatric” refers to children. From this, pediatric care refers to any medical care that children receive, with pediatric nurses often providing this care to their young patients.

Of course, this definition covers a huge spectrum of potential care that a patient could receive, and there are many subspecialties devoted to providing specific procedures and care for younger patients. For instance, a pediatric spine surgeon will have specialized knowledge of and experience in working with children’s spines. 

As a pediatric nurse, you will be providing care for children. Your specific duties will change based on the facility where you work and your role within that facility, but you will be working exclusively with children.

Providing Children-Centered Care

So why is there such a clear delineation between children and older patients?

As it turns out, there isn’t a single answer to this question. To start, children are physically very different from older patients. In the course of a few years, a child will transition from newborn into adolescence, with various stages of development along the way. These clear physical differences mean that the corresponding physical care for these patients must meet the developmental needs of the patient in question.

However, nursing goes beyond just physical care for patients as well. As a nurse, you will be providing a tremendous amount of emotional and conversational support for many of your patients. And the bedside manner needed to work with kids is also very different.

As a result, pediatric nurses must learn and hone the skills necessary to work with younger patients, just as a nurse specializing in the operating room or in oncology must learn their patient’s unique needs and the care corresponding with their unique field.

See also: How much do pediatric nurses make?

Working with Family

The role of the patient’s family in pediatric nursing is unique from that of any other nursing specialty.

While family and loved ones always want to be involved in a patient’s care, they must be included when it comes to the youngest patients, as they will be the ones responsible for making important healthcare-related decisions. 

Including all relevant family members from the beginning of the healthcare process can be tough, and effective communication will help keep everyone on the same page. But as with any other communication in the healthcare space, it can be easier said than done. 

Providing Atraumatic Care

pediatric nursing

Healthcare-related trauma can affect patients of all ages. However, pediatric patients are especially vulnerable to it, as they are in the midst of a particularly formative part of their lives. 

Pediatric nurses should always strive to provide atraumatic care—care that minimizes the negative physical and emotional effects of both illness and the treatments used to address those illnesses. Pioneered by Dr. Donna Wong, atraumatic care has become a pillar of pediatric nursing.

Practical applications of atraumatic care in pediatric nursing can take many forms. It could be as simple as taking the time to play games and directly engage with your patients. In other cases, activities that allow patients to feel at home in the hospital setting (tours of the facility, for instance) can help ease the sense of displacement that younger patients may feel.

A child facing a barrage of injections or the prospect of going under sedation for the first time will need deeply personal care and a safe place to address their fears and anxieties ahead of the procedure.

Acting with Empathy

As with any other type of nursing, engaging in genuine and honest empathy can help pediatric nurses understand what their patients are going through—and take steps to ease the healthcare journey and provide effective and atraumatic care along the way.

In fact, a developed sense of empathy and atraumatic care tend to overlap in many areas. Pediatric nurses often engage in activities that help their young patients escape from the scary parts of their healthcare journey; just as importantly, though, they help the patient feel comfortable in expressing their fears and apprehensions.

By understanding where your patient is coming from, you’ll be able to open the door to an honest and caring relationship—something that every pediatric patient needs.

At the same time, empathy for family members can be just as important, especially when their little loved ones are going through a tough procedure or are experiencing alarming symptoms. In both cases, empathy and understanding can utterly transform their experiences within the healthcare industry.

Building a Career in Pediatric Nursing

If you’re interested in becoming a pediatric nurse, there is no shortage of resources to learn more about the field and its many specialties. In fact, Nursa has created an ultimate guide to pediatric nursing which can give you a great idea of what you’ll be getting into by pursuing this field.

For many nurses, working with children is a particularly rewarding experience. The optimism and excitement of their young patients never fail to leave a smile on nurses’ faces and can really cut through some of the more stifling aspects of the nursing profession. Further, helping and healing the youngest patients is a truly worthy vocation.
Whether you’re just beginning your path into the endlessly intriguing world of nursing or you’ve been around the block, Nursa has the content for you! Check out more of our nursing articles for additional tips and tricks on every aspect of nursing.

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Blog published on:
December 7, 2022

Calvin is a contributing copywriter at Nursa who specializes in nursing content centered around healthcare technology for both facilities and clinicians, medical terminology, and current events.

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