Sunday, 14 July 2013

So you want to be a children's nurse?

Most Universities will be full for September now, but before you know it they will be interviewing for 2014, so if you want to be a children’s nurse, what might you think about in preparing for your application?  Here are some thoughts; but note I am not an admissions tutor (if I were I would not be able to do this!) and there are no guarantees, these are just some thoughts.  

Before you apply, think about where you want to go to University, but also remember that you will have placements that may start/finish at unsocial hours.  Find out where you will be doing placements and can you get there and home early in the morning and late at night, and at weekends?
Having done this, what about your statement and interview?  The first thing is, and I don’t want to sound patronising, but being a children’s nurse is not like being a nursery nurse, be clear that you know the difference.  I am not going to tell you what these differences are, if you want to be a nurse you should know or find that out, a hint however is that saying ‘I want to be a children’s nurse so that I can look after/because I like children’ is probably not going to be enough.  

Secondly, remember that although a lot of children’s nursing is done in hospital, even more is done out of hospital.  Nurses don’t just work with sick children, but increasingly with well children; trying to prevent disease as well as to treat it.  Even for children who are sick, they are looked after at home as far as possible.  This is where the future really lies, to find out more look up health visiting or community nursing on the search engine of your choice.

Thirdly, have some idea of what is going on both in the world, the nation, and in the NHS.  Look up a few recent reports and have some idea of what they said; for example try the Kennedy Report.   Don’t read the whole thing (unless you want to), when you get reports such as this look for something called the Executive Summary – it is all you need to know in a few pages.

Fourth, if you have trouble with maths, get some help.  You will have to do a maths test at some point – it will usually be at the interview stage, but you will also have to demonstrate your ability to do basic maths throughout the course.  This is crucial for the delivery of safe care; most children’s drugs for example are given according to weight (usually) or surface area, and so you need to be able to calculate these doses.

Fifth, remember children are not ‘little adults’; but developing individuals.  Think about children of different ages, and how they develop both physically and cognitively (how they think and understand the world).  For example, the heart rate of a baby is much higher than an adult; and a rash will seem different to a 3 year-old than to a 14 year-old.

Six, try and think about things from the child and families point of view; what do you think matters to them?  You might get some clues from this blog and other websites - but just think logically, even better, ask some children!

Finally, you need to be competent to practice as a nurse, but you also need to be nice.  Show this side: be assertive, but be polite; be professional, but smile; take part in group exercises, but don’t be too pushy.

Good luck!

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