Pediatric Nursing Demands Care for the Family Unit
In honor of National Nurses Week, Richard J. Slote, R.N., shared his perspective on pediatric nursing at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Mr. Slote has worked at HSS for more than 15 years.
As an inpatient nurse, each day is unique and unpredictable. Since our role is patient-driven, the day’s agenda can change often as we’re reacting to patient care needs. I enjoy that no day is the same, which is especially true at HSS since we deal with a wide spectrum of disease states and surgical interventions in our orthopedic and rheumatological pediatric populations.
My philosophy in pediatric nursing is to treat the “family unit,” which includes the patient, parents or caregivers, siblings and other loved ones. As nurses, we need to cultivate trust and acceptance by the family unit in a very concentrated period of time. Assessing and addressing family dynamics fascinates me and is a part of my holistic nursing approach. Emotional support is an essential part of pediatric nursing. Especially among adolescent patients, feelings of self-esteem and independence can be affected by a disease or injury. My help in decreasing patients’ and parents’ anxieties through teaching and emotional support often results in visible outcomes, much happier patients and gratified nurses.
I also try to make the hospital experience positive and fun. One rarely thinks of having fun in a hospital, but it is often therapeutic for a patient to have positive associations with their hospitalization. I play board games or video games with the patients, and a little levity helps maintain a favorable connection.
Because of the nature of musculoskeletal disease, many of our patients return to the unit for follow-up procedures, sometimes over years. As a result we get to know the children very well, and many come back for a visit after they’re discharged to show us how well they are doing.
I also enjoy that nursing allows me to work on projects outside of patient care. I am a member of a committee of the Orthopaedic Nursing Certification Board to write questions for the national exam, and I have written two academic articles on topics of pediatric spine and international nursing. I travel annually for a medical mission to Ghana, West Africa, where I treat children with severe spine disorders. This experience has enriched my life immeasurably.
Richard J. Slote, R.N., is a nurse at the HSS Lerner Children’s Pavilion. Slote serves the Orthopaedic Nursing Certification Board and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, and is a volunteer for the Foundation of Orthopedics and Complex Spine in Ghana, West Africa.