Whether you love kids or have no experience with them, there may come a time where you have to treat pediatric patients. It is important to understand children and teens are not just miniature adults. They have different needs and levels of understanding. In some cases, working with pediatric patients can be a challenge, but it can also be very rewarding. Although all patients are going to be different, consider some general guidelines in order to work effectively with pediatric patients.
A Child’s Age Matters
Children are going to have different needs at different ages. For example, very young children may be confused and scared, while a teenager may be self-conscious or angry about their situation. Keep the age of the child in mind when explaining things, such as procedures and treatment. In general, the younger the child, the simpler the terms should be.
Working with Parents
It is important healthcare works also understand they need to work with the parents of their patients. Depending on the age of the pediatric patients, parents may have varied involvement. Keep in mind, parents can influence how their child reacts to a certain situation. In some instances, parents can transfer their own anxiety onto their child and make a situation worse. There are other cases where a parent’s presence is invaluable and helps calm the situation.
Parents may be fearful and not fully understand what is going on. Take the time to answer their questions and provide the needed information. Even adults can become overwhelmed with all the medical equipment, procedures and terminology. Keep in mind that people of all ages tend to feel less fearful if they have some knowledge and understanding about what is going on.
Keep the Child’s Rights in Mind
Children have the same rights to medical care and privacy as adults do. Don’t overlook their needs just because of their age. In some situations, depending on the age of the child they may play a role in deciding about their care. Although legally, children will need to have a parent or legal guardian consent to treatment or medical procedures, older children and teens may want to have their opinion heard.
Many healthcare facilities have social workers who may be able to help with specific issues regarding pediatric patients. In addition, hospitals and rehabilitation centers with a large pediatric population may also employ child life specialists. Child life specialists are trained to work with children who are dealing with medical issues. They can provide explanations of procedures, activities during downtime and a distraction during procedures.
Dealing with Difficult Situations
Dealing with children facing medical issues, including life threatening situations, can be emotionally challenging for workers. Healthcare workers are often compassionate, which makes it difficult to avoid feeling bad for the families involved. It is important healthcare workers continue to be empathetic and kind, but not to overstep boundaries. Getting involved in personal family issues or becoming too attached is not a good idea for your own well-being.