Have you wondered what it’s like to work with pediatric patients? Some professionals love the idea of becoming a specialist with children or adolescents, and can’t imagine doing anything else. What should you know if you’re considering this career path?
Pediatric patients aren’t just “small adults.” There are differences between caring for a pediatric patient and an adult that are important to know:
• It may seem obvious, but you must be comfortable holding and handling children. One minute you may be cleaning them up, the next minute you may be rocking them.
• You’ll need to know about childhood development and what’s normal for each stage of childhood and adolescence. Once you know what to expect, you can interact with each patient appropriately.
• Pediatric units and facilities are more colorful, often with playrooms and toys. Staff is expected to be silly and to spend time with the patients at whatever developmental stage the children are at. It’s sometimes called “distraction therapy.”
• With patients who have developmental delays or disabilities, tasks such as tube feedings or tracheostomy care will be similar to adults, but on a smaller scale. It’s important to protect all tubes, because re-insertion of tubes can be difficult.
• Routine tasks, such as taking vital signs, require learning a new set of “normal” ranges for various stages of development. Intake and output may be measured by weighing diapers or “wee bags.”
• If you choose to work in a home setting, you may provide full care for the patient, beyond what you’d do in a hospital or facility, such as administering medications. The young patients may require constant care. You’ll work closely with the family and become familiar with your patient. Sometimes light housekeeping is part of the responsibilities.
Being a pediatric CNA isn’t easy. Here is what one CNA who works in a long-term facility says: “The best…is the kids themselves. They are amazing and so touching. Many are there because they were born disabled, but many others are there as a result of abuse or accidents, so it can be really tough.
As much as they can break my heart, it's incredibly rewarding to work with these kids, and it really does change you as a person. They are so happy with the smallest bit of attention or affection, and you get so attached to them. I can't imagine working anywhere else, now.”
A CNA works hard. No one knows that more than you. But if you’re looking to work hard AND make a child laugh or smile, look into a rewarding career in pediatrics.
Try reviewing the course material on the vital signs in children from our course library.
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