Nurses in the high-tech age have so many resources at their fingertips. But with all the perks that technology brings, the core of nursing remains constant. Says Cindy Roberts, RN, MS, and Program Director of Isabella Graham Hart School of Practical Nursing at Rochester General Hospital: “As a nurse my best tools are my brain, heart and hands.” This is true of all nurses, but pediatric nurses have a special set of tools in their kit. Read on for Scrubbed In’s fundamental tool kit checklist. Then tell us: What’s in your kit?
1. A Smile
A big, warm smile is disarming … it says, “This is an OK place to be.” It says, “We’re a team.” Your pediatric patients might still be highly suspicious (they’re pretty savvy!), but a nice smile will help build trust and put them more at ease.
I worked in a pre-op clinic where stickers and toys were available to hand out to our patients. It was the best part of my job! I loved rewarding (or bribing) kids with a little treat to reinforce their healthcare encounter as a positive one.
3. Good Humor
We all have our comic shticks with kids. Mine is the classic, “How does this stethoscope thing work?” I feign confusion, putting the end of my stethoscope on my arm, my knee, the desk. My husband rolls his eyes when I tell him this — he thinks it’s corny. But young kids find it hilarious (I think?) and love knowing the right answer.
4. Firm Limit Setting
Unfortunately, nurses need to do some unpleasant things to patients at times, like placing IVs, drawing blood, or performing a dressing change. Even less invasive interventions like chest PT or taking a blood pressure (or a benign exam!) can be potentially frightening for a pediatric patient. And because we need to do these things so that we can help our patients heal, we can’t waver in our resolve. Kids have eagles eyes for hesitation and they’ll dig their heels in deeper when they spot it.
5. Colorful Scrubs
Bright, multi-colored scrubs are a welcome distraction for kids who associate scrubs and lab coats with fear and distrust. Colorful scrubs can make you seem more approachable and less of a threat.
A pediatric nurse needs strength in many forms. Physical strength, yes. Emotional strength, yes. And then there’s being strong for the child and family who feel a complete loss of control. The I-will-get-you-through-this kind of strength. The squeeze-my-hand-as-hard-as-you-can kind of strength.
Are you a pediatric nurse? What’s in your toolkit?