Pediatric nurses may be the most adept multitaskers of all nursing disciplines. Their days involve a parade of duties, from keeping flawless patient records to coaxing a smile from a child having their blood drawn.
But physical examinations and record management are only part of the picture; these nurses embrace a range of responsibilities when working with children from diverse backgrounds, ages, and health conditions. A pediatric nurse who wants to shine should build a toolbox of both hard and soft skills.
Are you eager to discover how to become a pediatric nurse who excels?
With these seven crucial pediatric nurse skills, you can establish a reputation for being as adaptable and resilient as the children you care for, no matter where the work takes you.
#1 Basic Nursing Skills
Every nurse must carry out a series of basic procedures regardless of specialty. These include:
- Carrying out MD orders
- Providing basic wound care
- Administering emergency medical care when needed
- Having a firm grasp of medical terminology
- Knowing growth stages, development benchmarks, and how to approach patients to administer care given those stages
Additionally, your professional growth hinges on your commitment to continued learning. Attend conferences and seminars or seek employer-sponsored training. Topics like Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems can help you prepare for upcoming tech integrations.
Nurturing your long-term expertise beyond the call of duty will ensure your core skills stay relevant. Doing so will also allow you to confidently tackle any skill-based pediatric nursing interview questions and stand out as a highly competent candidate before stepping into the role.
#2 Knowledge of Medical Technologies
Pediatric nursing calls for proficiency in various operating systems and medical equipment. These technologies, whether used to track histories or monitor vitals, are fundamental to modern care.
In today’s digital age, every pediatric nurse should possess a basic understanding of medical software. However, the more adept you become in navigating current tools and systems, the better positioned you’ll be to collaborate with your team and cater to your patients’ needs.
#3 Nursing Ethics and Confidentiality
As a medical professional, you’ll be subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. A federally recognized measure of protecting patient privacy, this law helps ensure nurses and other health care providers only share medical information with authorized parties.
Because pediatric nurses work with children, understanding and abiding by HIPAA is vital for:
- Ensuring patients are treated fairly
- Providing patients with accurate medical information
- Respecting patients’ autonomy
- Making decisions with patients’ best interests in mind
- Accepting responsibility for ethical breaches
In pediatric nursing, things can get a bit tricky when we’re dealing with the balance between a child’s rights and their parents’ authority under HIPAA. While the HIPAA rules remain consistent, it’s important to recognize the unique challenges that come with respecting a growing child’s privacy and autonomy while also honoring the role and rights of parents.
That’s where it can get a little complex. Pediatric nurses need to be well-informed about the hospital’s policies and available resources, and know how to access them. In some cases, there may be situations where parents might not have the final say in their children’s medical decisions. It’s a delicate balance that involves both ethical considerations and legal obligations.
#4 Familiarity With Basic Child Development
Every stage of childhood presents unique physiological and psychological requirements. From varying levels of physical activity to diverse nutritional needs and emotional care, each milestone has its demands.
As a pediatric nurse, your role is to understand these developmental stages and guide children in their journey towards personal well-being. Fluency in childhood development can also help you identify when something may be “off” with a patient.
Learning the basics of childhood development will help you make assessments based on patient data and firsthand observations. This way, you can more effectively assess, treat, and champion your patients’ best interests.
#5 Interpersonal Skills With Young People
Pediatric nurses will often see their young patients grow from infancy to adolescence. Creating meaningful relationships as you work with them can help patients feel at ease at the doctor’s office.
Being a friendly face in the room can help create a sense of safety and consistency. This comfort allows children to broach sensitive topics about their bodies or personal challenges, promoting self-advocacy within clinical settings.
Here are some ways you can cultivate a compassionate, familiar atmosphere:
- Show genuine interest in their hobbies and interests
- Respectfully use their preferred name and pronouns
- Empathize with their feelings during each appointment
- Enquire about their activities or achievements since the last appointment
- Take the time to learn about their family
Sometimes, simply showing compassion and interest in their world is all young people need to feel cared for and validated.
#6 Empathy, Understanding, and Family Dynamics
When you first meet your pediatric patient and their caregiver, it could be a challenging moment for them. Several factors may amplify the situation:
- Complex or charged family dynamics
- Rivalry between siblings
- Sensitive developmental stages (like puberty)
- Non-conventional family structures
- Physical or emotional abuse at home
- Self-harm, substance abuse, and other mental health struggles
As a nurse, you play a vital role in providing support to process these difficult and potentially risky situations, which can often involve several family members. Active listening, conflict mediation, and the ability to escalate crucial matters are all part of being a well-rounded pediatric nurse.
#7 Communication, Organization, and Teamwork
Communicating effectively in a fast-paced healthcare environment can be tough, but clear and concise communication—in person, over a call, or through written exchanges—is invaluable.
If you’re already a pediatric nurse, you can practice your communication skills in the following ways:
- Keeping patients regularly informed about their status and test results
- Ensuring families remain updated about their child’s health progress and challenges
- Communicating the latest case details to your peers promptly and thoroughly
Good communication goes beyond relaying details. Your professional behavior can also say a lot, such as:
- Showing up on time to shifts
- Keeping detailed records for each patient
- Checking in regularly with coworkers to offer assistance where needed
As a pediatric nurse, your day-to-day routine will be bustling, with significant time spent on administrative tasks. Good organization and time management are vital for the smooth operation of hospitals and clinical settings—and your professional growth.
How To Level Up Your Work Life As a Pediatric Nurse
No matter which pediatric nursing skills you’re honing, the best way to improve is through hands-on experience. Here are some strategies that can help you enrich your professional toolbox, helping you become an efficient, memorable, and highly valued team member:
Embrace Your Role as an Advocate
One of the most crucial aspects of being a pediatric nurse is serving as a voice for your patients. You’ll be responsible for listening to their concerns, understanding their needs, and conveying these to your team. Supporting your patients enhances their feelings of being understood and directly contributes to their long-term health.
Look for Non-Verbal or Behavioral Cues
The American Medical Association conducted a study involving 5,000 adults, revealing that over 80% of patients admitted to concealing or altering health information when interacting with their medical provider.
This statistic holds significance for pediatric nurses for a couple of reasons:
- Enhancing communication – Pediatric nurses play a crucial role in ensuring the well-being of their young patients. Children may not always communicate their health concerns effectively, and caregivers might inadvertently omit crucial details. By developing the ability to ask insightful questions about a child’s routine or a teenager’s habits, nurses can uncover vital information that could have a significant impact on the patient’s health.
- Modeling compassion and transparency in care – Children are highly influenced by their surroundings. By modeling compassion and transparency in healthcare, pediatric nurses not only provide better care but also teach children, who are our future adults, the importance of trust and open communication with their healthcare providers. This creates a lasting impact on their attitude towards healthcare throughout their lives.
Delivering quality care to patients and their families can also mean relying on your observational skills. How well can you tune in to the atmosphere and decode body language? This is incredibly important when working with patients who are too young to articulate their feelings or patients with developmental disabilities who may find it challenging to express themselves verbally.
Grow Your Skills with Each New Assignment with Host Healthcare
The skills needed to be a pediatric nurse vary between patients and workplaces. Still, every situation is an opportunity to learn. You’ll quickly become a competent nurse by bringing a deliberate approach and growth mindset to your career.
To kickstart your next adventure as a pediatric nurse, apply to join Host Healthcare’s community of travel nurses. Our devoted and empowering team of travel nurse recruiters will work with you to find ideal assignments that will allow you to reach your full potential. You’ll also have priority access to thousands of desirable positions across the nation.
Take control of your career by becoming a travel nurse with Host Healthcare.
Notre Dame of Maryland University. A Day in the Life of a Pediatric Nurse. https://online.ndm.edu/news/nursing/pediatric-nurse-infographic/
Indeed. Rapport: Definition (Plus 20 Ways to Build Rapport at Work). https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/what-is-rapport
Indeed. Pediatric Nurse Skills: Definition and Examples. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/pediatric-nurse-skills
Association of American Medical Colleges. When patients lie. https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/insights/when-patients-lie