Working as an Adult Nurse vs Working as a Paediatric Nurse

By Josh Jezard

Working as an Adult Nurse vs Working as a Paediatric Nurse

Working with children and adolescents or working with adults, each has its own trials and tribulations. We know many paediatric nurses who swear they'd never cross over to adult patients and vice versa. While both options offer highly rewarding career paths it is important that any nurse truly understand the differences between the two types of patients. In this three minute read, we'll look at the key differences between the two and let you decide where your loyalties lie.

Children are not small adults! The physiological and emotional differences between adults and children are huge, not only that, the differences that exist between children of varying ages is another consideration that paediatric nurses have to deal with. A paediatric nurse can have 4-6 patients at any one time ranging from babies and toddlers to adolescents. Because the majority of paediatric patients are still developing nurses are required to consider any issues that may relate to the growth and development of the patient before administering treatment. These considerations have a huge impact on plans of care compared with adult patients.

The way in which paediatric nurses approach the administering of treatment poses a challenge that wouldn't necessarily be seen in adult nursing. Nurses have to consider different coping abilities for traumatic or painful procedures, different physical skills based on motor development, different cognitive abilities, different lab value and vital sign normal ranges.

When it comes down to a diagnosis or explaining a procedure to adult patients it is generally to the point, logical and you can manage their expectations. However, for young patients, you need to have this amazing ability that paediatric nurses seem to master so well of talking to the patient at a level that they'll understand and then relaying the key information again to the parents or guardians.

Communication plays a huge part in the role of the nurse and while it may be more straight forward for adult nurses who are able to talk with their patients, pediatric nurses will need to keep a close eye out for non-verbal clues. A huge amount of patience and empathy is needed to communicate successfully with children and their families to ensure that the best possible care for everyone.

Bigger isn't always better and this is certainly true when it comes to patient bodily fluids. Vomit, poop and enemas all come in kid-size, much nicer when there's an accident that needs cleaning up. However, things tend to be more delicate when it comes to paediatrics. For instance, it's much harder to get veins for IV in children, babies are unable to do anything for themselves and need constant monitoring and the whole administration of drugs is usually a lot slower with severe consequences if handled incorrectly.

As in much of nursing, you need a real passion for children and paediatrics to be successful as a paediatric nurse, the job can be mentally and physically tough on individuals. There’s a lot that goes into becoming and working as a pediatric nurse, however, there is no doubt that it is one of the most rewarding careers out there.

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