Watching Children Die

So New Grad, You Want to go into Pediatric Nursing?

You’re good with kids? You babysat a lot when you were younger? You aced you pediatric rotation? While all that seems like perfect candidate material for pediatrics, you’re likely missing a huge pediatric nursing (mostly acute care) experience. 

Watching children die.

Can you watch children die? From cancer, from car accidents, from accident gunshots, from random blood disorders, from strokes, from complications of chronic diseases, at the hands of their parents or caregivers, from anything under the sun and then some. 

While all pediatric nurses are not expected to experience these type of events routinely, you kind of are. And while all pediatric nurses are not expected to experience these things and not be phased by them, you kind of are. What makes a good pediatric nurse is knowing when to hug to mom, when to let the family watch the code so they see you’ve tried everything, when to shut off the monitor in the patients room.

“Nurse Her et al., can I take my trains to heaven with me when I go to be angel?”

He was four, cancer, and facing his reality that he would soon pass away. My job as his nurse was to help ease his passing for him. To give a four year old peace of mind knowing he is terminal, isn’t an experience anyone gets use to. And it stays with you. 

This was over ten years ago and I can still remember everything. The smell of alcohol wipes, his pulse ox beeping because of the tourniquet, the whispering med students right outside his door. 

In my opinion, a perfect pedi nurse would be all of the above plus a person who doesn’t want children of their own. I don’t know how many times my children have reminded me of a child I’ve cared for who had passed. And that connection is terrifying. It could be a look they give me or an ailment they’re telling me about, it makes me think back to time I’d love to forget about. 

I’d like all nurses wanting to go into pediatrics to know that you are not going to be playing with kids. Their happy times are anything where nurses are not and you will rarely have time to play. 

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