A paediatric nurse is someone who works with children of all ages and with many different types of health problem in both clinical and community settings. Most paediatric nurse jobs also require a nurse to communicate in a sensitive yet clear manner with the parents or guardians of a child, who may also be under emotional stress at the time.
In some cases there is also the need for the paediatric nurse to teach ongoing care tasks to the adult responsible for the child’s wellbeing once they leave hospital.
Very often paediatric nurses will be RSCN registered, but sometimes they may be RGNs with experience of working with children.
What is the day to day routine like?
Working in a ward environment is a similar routine to a working as a nurse in any other department. There will be a handover to complete at the start of a new shift, drug rounds, obs, discharges and care plans to organise. The main difference will be the involvement of the child’s parents or guardians. It is a key skill of a children’s nurse to be tactful and sensitive to the needs of the adults involved as well as the child.
Being in hospital can be a frightening time for a child, and it is the nurse’s responsibility to keep them as informed as needs be to help them stay calm and relaxed. Children of all ages can find it hard to communicate the severity of pain or the details of a feeling, so a children’s nurse must be especially aware of the sudden onset of symptoms or the rapid deterioration of a child and react accordingly.
Passing on skills to the adults that will continue caring for a child at home can be time consuming and difficult for all parties involved. The mental and physical symptoms of the stress and emotional turbulence the parents are likely to experience can hinder anyone when learning new skills, and it’s likely that the techniques being taught are entirely new to them. It’s in these circumstances that the children’s nurse must demonstrate a compassionate approach and clear but sensitive communication style.
What places, other than hospitals, can a children’s nurse work?
Children’s nurse jobs can be based in the community or in clinics across the country. The structure of these services in terms of leadership can vary, but there is typically a group of nurses lead by a matron or a lead nurse with an overall view of the caseload.
Community children’s nurses often work in either day clinics or at the child’s home, and travel a great deal in their daily routine.
How can I become a Paediatric Nurse?
You will need to apply for a children’s nursing qualification at a university. The places available are normally far fewer than the number applying for them, so it’s a good idea to make sure your application is as good as possible.
You can enhance your application with voluntary experience, either clinical or community based, by showing evidence of recent study and by explaining fully in your personal statement your motivation to complete the course and pursue the career in its entirety.
Once you’ve completed the course, you will become registered with the NMC and receive your pin number. This is your official entry to the profession and from the moment you’re accepted onto the register you can practice as a nurse in the UK.
Where does my career progress from there?
Very often when you apply for a children’s nursing job as a newly qualified nurse, you will be offered a preceptorship. This is your on-the-job training, usually provided in house by the hospital or NHS trust you are working for. Once you’ve completed that and got a few years experience, you may chose to specialise in a particular area of children’s nursing. This could be oncology, ICU, diabetes, orthopaedics or many more.
As your experience progresses you have the opportunity to work your way up the NHS pay bands. As a newly qualified paediatric nurse you will usually start on the first pay point in band 5, and gradually work your way to the top of the pay band until you are ready to become a band 6 nurse.
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