A career as a paediatric nurse in the emergency department means high stress but unparalleled satisfaction

August 28, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Most healthcare professionals who specialise in paediatrics will unanimously agree that caring for children is one of the most rewarding areas of the nursing profession. However, nothing can compare to the challenges associated with working in the paediatric emergency department in any hospital.  This is a sub-specialty that combines the stresses of working in a paediatric department with that of working in the emergency department and calls for several different skills and areas of expertise. The most crucial attribute for any nurse who chooses to work in the paediatric emergency department is to be able to successfully navigate high-stress environments while remaining calm, cool, collected and most importantly, without getting emotionally attached to their patients. This can often be the most difficult part.

Hannah with one of the local children from the orphanage. Some of the other skills and traits that are needed in any emergency department include being a good listener and a strong communicator as well as being able to operate objectively in a complex, highly stressful work environment. Emergency department and trauma nurses need to be sound patient advocates and often have to work in collaboration with several different medical as well as nonmedical professionals. In addition to being incredibly organised, flexible, empathetic and willing to learn, emergency paediatric nurses also need to be able to multitask and make crucial decisions with regards to prioritising patients.

In an emergency department, there is no such thing as a typical work day. Typical is not a word that is ever associated with ED nursing. Every day brings its own challenges, from children with broken bones to burn victims. For the most part, this is a department that only gets busier as the day progresses. There is no specific pattern as to when the most critically ill or injured children present and that only adds to the controlled chaos within the department. Emergencies happen 24 hours a day, 365 days a week with no consideration to holidays.

While for most nurses the ever-changing, chaotic environment is not entirely unexpected, it can often become the most stressful element of the job.  Walking in everyday brings in new experiences with plenty of moments for growth and learning. The plus side of this is that it contributes to creating a staff of strong critical thinkers who learn to adapt quickly to any situation.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for paediatric nurses in the emergency department. As any nurse in this specialty and they will readily admit that the rewards of the job are many and well worth everything they do. Nurses who work in the paediatric emergency department are often humbled by the miracles they witness every day, from helping their little on their feet to saving their lives.

One of the truly rewarding experiences for nurses who work in the paediatric emergency department is that it allows them to make instant connections with families and promote healthier, sometimes life-altering choices for their children. Above all, the intense environment, where children often hover between life and death, also allows for a tremendous amount of growth, both on a personal as well as a professional level.