What kind of patients will I work with?
Your patient group will be very diverse: from tiny newborns to teenagers, and every child in between. You will also need to work very closely with the child’s parents or carers.
You’ll need to understand how children develop normally, and how poor health and contact with healthcare professionals can affect children’s longer-term development.
I always knew I wanted to work with children, and volunteering with St John’s Ambulance steered me towards nursing instead of teaching.
What will I do for my patients?
As with any nursing role, you’ll evaluate patient needs in order to provide the best possible care. The main difference is that children, particularly younger children, often cannot communicate their needs or pain levels very well, so you will need to be very sensitive to their situation and monitor outcomes carefully. You may also have to deal with situations where a child's health deteriorates rapidly.
You will act as the key point of contact for the child and their parents within the healthcare team.
Educating and advising parents about treatment options and implications, and providing support and training to help them deliver follow-up care and medication at home is also an important part of the role.
Where will I work?
As with all areas of nursing, children’s nursing is becoming more community based. So while you could work in a hospital, in areas such as accident and emergency, you could also work in a daycare centre, a child health clinic or at a child’s home.
Who will I work with?
Children’s nurses work with a broad range of healthcare professionals in each multidisciplinary team, which could include GPs, social workers, surgeons, hospital play staff, psychologists and relevant specialists.
What kind of jobs could I do?
Once you are a registered nurse, you can progress your career in any direction that takes your interest. The roles described here are just a few examples of what’s possible with this qualification.
Children’s nurses can specialise in a particular area of paediatrics, such as neonatal intensive care or paediatric oncology. Or you could opt to become a school nurse, for example.
You might wish to undertake additional training or experience to work as a health visitor, to support new parents and their babies and children. Health visiting is expected to be a growing area in the NHS over the next few years, with many more employers looking to bolster their teams.
Senior nursing roles might include teaching relevant skills to student nurses and doctors, or managing nursing services for one or more wards.
I’ve worked in children’s outpatients, and on the inpatient wards as a staff nurse and team leader. The job I now do is one of a kind, supporting 50 staff nurses on rotational placements to develop a broad range of clinical skills.
Like any branch of nursing, if you decide you don’t want to specialise in this field after all, then you have many options to move sideways as well as upwards into positions that do interest you.
What kind of person makes a good children’s nurse?
Someone who can carefully listen to and interpret a child’s needs, feelings and behaviour, and act upon these effectively, no matter what the child’s stage of development.
You’ll need to be intuitive and sensitive to reassure the children in your care, as well as their parents – who may find their child’s health problem very distressing.
Good observational skills are also important, because children’s health can deteriorate rapidly when they are unwell, and good communication skills will help you teach parents how to help their child at home.
Like every branch of nursing, you need to be committed to lifelong learning and always keeping your skills and knowledge up to date.
I’m now rolling it into a masters degree in education. I should be able to access a wide range of senior teaching roles, or work towards a specialist position in children’s A&E.
Bringing together all this knowledge to help a critically ill child is immensely satisfying.
Is this for me?
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