Course Update: N350 Pediatric Nursing
By Kathleen Pecora, MSN-Ed, Assistant Dean of Nursing
Pediatric medicine deals with the medical care of infants, children, and adolescents. In the United States, this generally applies to children from birth to 18 years of age. The official change from pediatric to adult patients is age 21. The reason why the age is extended to age 21 is because many children are not quite ready to transition to adult medicine. It is beneficial for teenagers and young adults who have childhood illnesses such as leukemia, chronic health conditions, autism, intellectual and developmental delay, Down Syndrome, and many other pediatric medical concerns to be treated by a pediatrician and cared for by a pediatric nurse. This population benefits from the familiarity with and continuation of medical care by the same physician during the transition into adulthood.
The physiological and emotional differences that exist between adults and children require specialized training by pediatricians and pediatric nurses to be effective in meeting the health needs of young patients. The pediatric population is constantly maturing intellectually, emotionally, and socially―as well as physically. Pediatric staff are challenged to deal with these changes effectively. In the beginning of our pediatrics course, we teach our students to have good communication skills with this population due to the many different personalities and issues that come with pediatrics. We learn to navigate through the challenges of emotional situations by preparing students to achieve better learning outcomes so as to provide the best possible care for this population of clients
We discuss growth and development along with physical assessment in the theory part of N350 which is a course in our BSN program. Then, we prepare the students for the clinical setting by learning the differences among the five categories of this population: infant, from birth to 12 months; toddler, 1 to 3 years of age; preschooler, 3 to 6 years; child, 6 to 12 years; and, adolescent, 13 to 18 years.
We learn in the theory, simulation, and clinical settings about the growth and development of all 5 groups. Further, we learn the differences in vital sign parameters, including heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure. Students work on case scenarios in simulations where they are placed in small groups. In these simulations, they research growth and development, proper nutrition, health issues, disease process, treatment regimens, school performance, teaching plans for children and their families, and dose calculations for this population of clients.
We have added five mathematics test questions to each examination. Our goal for our students is to be at 100% in dose calculations. There is no room for medication error as it is the most common error in nursing practice.
Our students are assigned to this population in the clinical setting. While in this setting they will put theory into practice and be assigned to children with chronic respiratory lung disorders or with cerebral palsy having had a tracheostomy and being dependent on gastrostomy tube feedings. The students administer medications following safe practice protocols, and care for patients under supervision.
Students have observed clients at CHLA in compromised medical states. Students have worked in CTICU, medical surgical floor, hematology, oncology, and rehabilitation. Students will participate in medication administration, patient care, dressing changes, observe central line dressing changes, feeding by kangaroo pump via gastrostomy tube, procedures, and so much more. We aim for excellence in our program and will continue to find clinical sites for pediatrics that give our students exposure to medical practice following high standards and with guidance from highly qualified employees and staff so as to be one of the best schools of nursing in California.