There are two types of nursing students: those that want to go into Pediatrics (aka Peds), and those that don’t. There’s just something about working with sick kids that either really excites someone, or makes them want to run and hide. I’ve always been with the former. I’ve worked with kids since the day I turned 12 years old and haven’t looked back since. I’ve forgone traditional nursing-student jobs like working as a tech or an aide, or getting internships in hospitals in favor of spending my summers with kids. It’s just what I love to do. So you’d think I was really excited about starting my Peds clinical rotation, right? Well, not exactly. While I was excited, I was also scared, nervous, confused, uneasy and just plain not sure what I was getting into. What if it wasn’t what I wanted it to be? What if I wasn’t good at it? What if the kids hated me? What about their parents? What if I mess up and someone’s child gets hurt? These questions haunted me for the 2.5 years of clinicals leading up to the semester of Peds.
By the end of my first 8-hour clinical, I knew the answers to almost all of these questions. It was okay that I was nervous, because so were my classmates. I wasn’t the only one. Peds can be scary! We just barely have it under control to take care of adults, but kids are a whole new world. Everything is different and nothing is the same. They’re smaller, more fragile, more imaginative, more sensitive and sometimes more scary. But let’s be honest – they are way more fun, and much, much cuter. Who wouldn’t rather sit and rock a baby or blow bubbles with a 9 year old to prevent post-op complications instead of handing an adult an incentive spirometer and reminding them that they have to use it so many times an hour? Not a hard choice if you ask me.
I’ll never forget my first Peds patient; he was recovering from a complicated surgery to fix some problems with his bones and had a cast from his lower waist all the way to his ankles. His procedure and recovery were painful, but he was the bravest and most inspiring patient I’ve ever had. He refused to complain of pain, even when it was evident that he was in excruciating pain. He always had a smile on his face, and his parents never left his side. He had done nothing to deserve the pain he was in, and all I wanted to do was make him smile and take away his pain. He reminded me of why I became a nurse. To help other people heal. It’s so much easier to want to help a kid feel better because we feel that they haven’t done anything to deserve their situations. They’re too young (most of the time) to have caused themselves physiological damage. They haven’t had the time to literally poison their bodies with toxins or make poor choices that lead to horrible accidents. All they deserve is to be normal kids and to feel better. As a nurse, I want to do everything in my power to make that happen.
As Mother Theresa once said, “It is not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing.”
No kid wants to spend time in the hospital. It’s scary, loud and unfamiliar and people are always poking them and prodding them. As nurses, we have the opportunity to make these experiences more enjoyable, if not even fun! We can start IVs on teddy bears to make it less scary, we can talk about Disney movies to distract them, we can blow bubbles to prevent surgical complications, we can play cars or do puzzles to give them a sense of normalcy and just have fun. All of these things help make those kiddos feel better, and can make a scary experience a little less traumatic. Horrible things can happen to kids – cancer, accidents and genetic disorders can cause so much devastation to such young little lives. Without having the chance to really live, their lives can incur such tragedy. These times in the hospital can be some of the hardest times that kids and their families will face. Pediatric nurses have the chance to make an impact on those little lives while they’re in the hospital. They can kiss the boo-boos away and ease the pain for those little ones that so tug at our hearts. To me, there’s no greater feeling than making a difference in the life of a child that needs it. It doesn’t matter if it’s scary or if the parents make me nervous. I’ll do everything I can to heal these kids or make their time in the hospital more bearable. If I can bring just one smile to their face, then I know I’m doing something right. I might just be a student nurse, but I know enough to know when I’m making a difference and doing the right thing. I know what kind of nurse I am, the kind that wants to work in Peds. I can’t imagine doing anything else.