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Paediatric nurses specialise in the care of children, from birth through to the late teenage years. Children are ‘built’ differently to adults both physically and psychologically, as they are not fully-developed and, consequently, the care and treatment they require will be different also.
Work is generally carried out in hospitals and healthcare practices, although nurses specialising in other areas of paediatrics, such as midwifery or community nursing, might spend a large portion of their time attending to patients in their homes.
They are actively involved in practical areas of healthcare, performing duties such as checking patients’ vital signs, cleaning and dressing wounds, connecting IVs (the tubes which are attached to a drip), administering vaccinations and medications and advising patients on the best ways to maintain a healthy and hygienic lifestyle. They often assist more senior healthcare professionals in performing surgical or complex procedures.
Nurses keep and update patients’ medical records and make sure necessary records are passed on to other medical professionals who also deal with the patient.
Paediatric healthcare professionals will almost always work closely with the parents and guardians of patients to diagnose and treat everyday health problems, such as colds, infections and minor injuries. They will also administer or oversee routine vaccinations.
They work closely with other medical professionals, including other nurses, doctors, surgeons, child psychologists and counsellors, especially if the child has experienced some sort of trauma either before, or as a result of, the treatment they have undergone.
Paediatric nurses need to take into consideration that the effects that any treatment they give, or procedures they perform on a child or infant, could have a lasting effect on the development and life of the individual. Consequently, they need to work closely with parents and guardians, ensuring that all possibilities regarding treatment are clearly highlighted and that those responsible for the patient are in suitably informed positions to make decisions about healthcare proceedings.