by Amanda Frame, BA, BSN, RN
TriStar Nurse Residency Amanda Frame

Why choose pediatric nursing?

Quite often when I would say that I am a nurse and I explained that I am a pediatric nurse, I would hear the response, “Oh, I could never do that!  Taking care of kids would make me so sad!”

To be able to code a three year old little girl who has a history of pre-B acute lymphocytic leukemia and who is currently unresponsive, wearing a light pink Minnie Mouse gown, curled up in her bed with her blankie by her side, all of the while keeping composure and tending to her sobbing mommy and worried daddy is very hard to do.

It takes a special person to quickly flip from singing and dancing with a 10 year old, coloring pages out of a coloring book with a 3 year old, or playing a video game with a 15 year old, to having to spring into action and take charge of a situation when your patient has taken a turn for the worse.  You are the one they have built trust with and you are now the one that has their little life in your hands…


You are the one they have built trust with and you are now the one that has their little life in your hands

How nurse residency prepares you

In the pediatric specialty track, we focus on the pediatric patient and how caring for a patient anywhere from the age of 0-18 years can be both challenging and rewarding.  In a regular day’s patient assignment, you may be simultaneously caring for a 6 month old, a 5 year old boy, a 10 year old girl, and a 17 year old boy.  So, how do you figure out each of their needs, their likes, dislikes, and how do you communicate with them so they understand what you are doing to them and for them each and every shift?

Besides reviewing the pathophysiology of each system of the body, we focus on areas that were specific to the pediatric population. For example, in week two of our specialty track curriculum, we have two child life specialists come to the class and teach the nurse residents some tips and tricks for ways to distract pediatric patients during an unpleasant procedure.

Pediatric Specialty Track Nurse Residency Program

They also show new nurses how to communicate with the pediatric patient in language that they can understand.  Also, the child life specialists demonstrate ways that the guardian of the child can therapeutically help hold a child so that way they can feel involved in their child’s care, but yet are not getting in the way of the task that needs to be done (i.e., giving oral medication, starting an IV, putting down an NG tube, etc.).

Some of the pediatric patients we care for have cancer and need chemotherapy. TriStar Centennial’s Hematology and Oncology nurse practitioner as well as their nurse navigator/educator specifically address this special pediatric patient population and allow the nurse residents the opportunity to practice their port accessing technique as well as practice a sterile central line dressing change.

What to expect in your training

In week 10 of our specialty track curriculum, we talk about patient and family-centered care and how that is even more crucial in the pediatric population.  When a child is hospitalized, from as short as 24 hours to as long as six months, we discuss how that has a ripple affect impact on the entire family – guardians, siblings, and extended family.  Our Simulation Learning Center Director brings a pediatric crash cart to class and provides the nurse residents with the opportunity to navigate through the drawers.  He explains the Broselow tape and coordinating crash cart, so that the nurse residents could connect the “what” with the “why” behind the color-coded system of the crash cart.  This helps to better prepare the nurse residents to respond to an emergency situation in their care area.

In week 11, our regional coordinators facilitate job shadowing experiences. Nurse residents have the opportunity to job shadow in both the pediatric emergency room as well as the pediatric kids express, where children of all ages come for infusions, transfusions, and additional therapies. 

Lastly, week 12 wraps up the pediatric specialty track curriculum where the nurse residents will become earn their Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certification.