A Day in the Life of a Pediatric Nurse

August 22, 2022
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
feature image

Nurses, especially pediatric nurses, should always expect the unexpected. Hopefully, as a nurse, you entered, or are thinking about entering, this profession with a desire to help young people. The life of a pediatric nurse can be highly fulfilling and anything but boring.

What can you expect as a pediatric nurse? Well, whether you work in a doctor’s office or in home health, many pediatric nurses will tell you that there is no such thing as a normal day. There are common themes across different types of pediatric nursing, and it can be helpful to share some typical experiences.

Whether you are looking to become a pediatric nurse or enter into a different subspecialty of pediatric nursing, this overview can help.

Clinical Pediatric Nursing: From Huddle to Patient Assessment to Follow Up

Very often, pediatric nurses start their day early. Very early. If your shift at a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital starts at 7:00 AM, you may need to be awake as early as 5:00 AM. Don’t worry, coffee is your friend.

No matter what your setting is, pediatric nurses can expect some form of a morning meeting or huddle. There, you’ll get any news for the day, such as staffing and patient levels or if anything is out of order. Spoiler alert: there usually is.

Next, you can expect to receive your patient loads for the day. If you are in a hospital this is based on admissions or projected admissions. If you are in a doctor’s office or clinic, this will likely be based on appointments.

One of the primary jobs of a pediatric nurse, just like other nurses, is gathering vital patient information such as temperature, weight, blood pressure, and medical history. In terms of young patients, there is one word a lot of nurses use to describe this: wrangler.

Remember going to the doctor’s office as a kid? Did you want to do any of the stuff mentioned above? Probably not. And if you did, it was because of a magical pediatric nurse who had just the right touch. Pediatric nursing requires patience, compassion, understanding, and probably more patience after that.

What else? There’s charting and reporting this information to the doctor or doctors, receiving treatment plans, administering needed treatment, getting kids over to diagnostics if needed, more charting, and more follow-ups. Pediatric nurses are basically like those people on variety shows who have to keep the plates spinning on a pole without any falling off.

No matter where you work, it is typical to cover for staff shortages and deal with schedule changes and extra admissions. You’ll probably be on your feet all day and feel like the only breaths you take are the ones you take walking in the door and the ones you take walking out.

What Sets the World of Pediatric Home Health Nursing Apart

Pediatric home health nurses work inside the homes of their young patients to deliver exceptional care. Some of the challenges are similar to other pediatric nurses — working with children requires a special touch. And many of these patients have rare conditions and very special needs.

Pediatric home health care nurses describe this profession as being the perfect fit for them though. The day can begin just as early, and there are always surprises in store, but some of the key advantages, particularly over the hospital, include:

  • Lower patient volume, 1:1 care in the home
  • Feeling like you are part of the family
  • Ability to work independently and make decisions for yourself
  • Better work-life balance
  • A more comfortable environment
  • Flexible schedules

Being a pediatric home care health nurse isn’t for everyone, but it is often a welcome change of pace for nurses feeling burnt out in other settings. Many nurses report a typical day that leaves them feeling energized and like they made a difference in one special life.

Join The Care Options For Kids Team!

Are you ready for meaningful work that comes with benefits and not burnout? Join the compassionate care team that helps children and families live their best lives. Our clinicians provide best-in-class pediatric nursing, therapy, and school-based services. We bring individualized care to children where they live, work, and play. We have opportunities in homes, schools, and clinics across the country.

Apply at Care Options for Kids now. We make it easy to get started, so you can begin making a difference as soon as possible.