Nurse's Station

Ouchies & Boo–boos: Easing The Pain Of Your Littlest Patients


Shutterstock | Brian Eichhorn
It could be argued that a pediatric nurse has double the work of any other. The patients may be smaller, but the work involved in caring for them could be larger. Children are more than “little people”. Their bodies, attitudes and reactions are distinctly different from an adults, making them some of the hardest patients in the world to treat, while at the same time giving their caregivers tremendous satisfaction.

Your First Role as a Pediatric Nurse

Whether in an emergency room or as a part of a pediatric well care group, the nurse is usually the first medical personnel a child has contact with. They may be scared of your white coat and stethoscope, or they could be feeling great and want to see how it works. Your job is to get them calmed down enough to begin your routine questions and tests, and have them ready for when the physician arrives.

For a scared child who is old enough to understand what is going on, avoid talking only with the parent who is with them. Use age appropriate terms to explain what is going on, and what will happen next, keeping eye contact with your small patient. This allows them to feel as if they do have some control over the situation.

Making Shots and Other Treatments Easier

Making a pediatric nurse’s job even more difficult is having to inflict any type of pain onto the patient. This could be through routine booster shots, or as a part of treatment for an injury or illness. No one ever wants to be the one to make a kid cry, so nurses from all type of pediatric based practices have developed some ways to help keep those tears at bay:

  • Have the appointment staff remind parents to bring along a comfort item. Most kids have a favorite toy or blanket that makes them feel better so make it a practice of letting parents know when book well care visits if any shots will be scheduled. This gives them the chance to make sure that the child has their soothing item with them when they are feeling most vulnerable.
  • Pediatric offices should be designed to cater to kids. Brightly painted walls, books and toys and furnishings that are just their size will make the entire experience a lot less intimidating.
  • A pediatric nurse should also dress the part and avoid scrubs that scream medicine. There are lots of companies out there that manufacture scrubs in fun prints and colors that will encourage children to trust you on first sight. See these four brands of scrubs that you need to check out.
  • Don’t try trickery with kids when getting ready to give a shot or other type of treatment. Prepare them for what’s about to happen in a reassuring tone, using words that they can understand. “Yes this will hurt for a few seconds, but then the pain will stop” is a much better approach than trying to distract them while you stick an IV in their arm. Trust is very important when dealing with kids, and you don’t want to set a tone where they feel that they cannot trust you.
  • Follow the kids lead. If they need their parent close by, make the adjustment so that they can sit on moms lap while you perform procedures. This may not always be the most convenient method for you, but if it helps to make your patient comfortable, then you are acting in their best interest.
  • Try investing in medical distraction toys. There are a number available on the market now which help not only to distract kids from what is happening to them, but can also lessen pain by confusing the nerves in the body. Buzzy, for example, is a bee whose vibrations and ice pack make all kinds of pediatric treatments more bearable.
  • Always wear your happy face to work, especially when working with pediatric patients. Children with chronic or terminal illnesses need your upbeat attitude to help them cope with the uncertainty of their condition.

Protecting the Parents From Being Hurt

Medical professionals who work in pediatrics already know that they are making a commitment not just to their small patients, but to the parents as well. Many situations find a nurse having to treat the sentiments of the parents while administering care to their young one.

Well dealing with parents keep in mind that what constitutes a major emergency for you is far different from what they feel. A fever a sore throat is just a part of your normal day, while for a new parent it could seem catastrophic. Once you are able to empathize with how the parents of your pediatric patients feel, you will have no trouble in finding the compassion that they need to help see them through –what they feel is – this major medical crises.

Pediatricians have a great deal of respect and appreciation for their nurses who are able to soothe ouchies and boo – boos before they even enter the room. You are not just making the experience less traumatic for the entire family with your calming demeanor, you are making it much easier for the treating physician to be able to give them the attention they need.


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