Marion Godin, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, clinical nurse scholar at Florida Atlantic Universitys Karen Slattery Educational Research Center for Child Development and adjunct faculty at the universitys Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, shares her insights as a pediatric nurse and educator with Nurse.com.
What was your impetus to become a nurse?
Godin: I wanted to help people and do something that allowed me to work with and connect with people and children. I loved the sciences, so nursing was a natural fit. I had babysat and found there is something fascinating about children. Children are children whether healthy or sick. A child who is ill still has the same wants and goals as other children. I feel drawn to them and have always wanted to work with this population. Working with kids inspires me to be a better person. They are so resilient.
Now with teaching, I am able to share my knowledge and experience with the next generation. I love pediatrics and feel I am able to help so many more children and their families by training future nurses to provide quality, competent care. (My educator role allows me to help) more patients than I could help as an individual.
What was your first exposure of working with preschool children?
Godin: My first peds rotation was at Boston Children’s Hospital. Working with the children was not a problem, because I had a comfort level from babysitting, but the parents were an added element and a challenge. They are nervous and scared. Caring for a child means caring for the family unit. Working with oncology patients at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, I saw parents stressed and worried and siblings who developed issues. It showed me you have to focus on family-centered care.
What are the fears of nursing students in working with preschool children?
Godin: The nursing students big fear is not knowing how to relate to a child. I spend time discussing ways to approach the children and appropriate language based on their developmental level.
Students must gain an understanding about how much children change in these early preschool years.
The students do not know what to expect. They are afraid the children might be fearful or not want to talk, or be intimidated (with the students assessing them). Students might worry if the children will cry or struggle to participate in the activity.
Whats your advice to nursing students who will be working with preschool children for the first time?
Godin: When students come to me, I require them to read about the developmental norms for the age group [they are working with]. I encourage them to be authentically present. Children are a population in which you cannot fake that. You must be fully engaged and want to be there, and the children will respond in a positive manner.
What was the process to develop the collaboration between FAU CON and FAUs early child development center?
Godin: While in a hospital setting with our students, I realized we needed to provide them with a community experience. I discussed it with our clinical coordinator, Beth King, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, who suggested the Slattery Center. We had an open contract, so it was easy to get started. We are under the same university family. I have been bringing students ever since, for four years. Slattery Center staff members want our nursing students there and teach them about the children and their needs. It has taken a few years to develop a rigorous and rewarding curriculum that structured their learning experiences to meet nursing students objectives and use the community health experience. Its exciting to grow this learning environment.