Dear Pediatric Nurses,
You are part of an honorable group of individuals who provide health care for the future of our world — our children. Your daily duties are fraught with challenges as you work within the constraints of a complicated and frustrating healthcare system, stay on your A++ game, and save and preserve the lives of tiny, small and big kiddos alike. What a day! What a job! What a choice!
Not all nurses are amazing, but I want to give a huge thanks to the ones who are amazing and have made the choice to work in pediatrics. Your job is not easy. I know it.
You bounce between doctors, patients and families. One minute you may be on an emotional high for the improvement of a patient and the next you may be at the depths of despair for the decline of a patient. Perhaps they are even one and the same at times. It is a roller coaster ride, I am sure. Not to mention you need to keep information and care for each patient at the forefront of your mind. You are likely very adept at your job, but you need to continually check and double-check everything you do, because a mistake could be the difference between life or death. What an awesome responsibility you have resting on your very strong and capable shoulders.
Let’s discuss this part, because that is why I am writing today. The parents. The caregivers. The families. The people who watch, with speculative eyes, every single move you make with your patient — their child. Every move you make builds or fractures a bond between you and them. Every word you say reinforces or tears down the trust they have for you as a caregiver for their child. What an awesome responsibility you have resting on your strong and very capable shoulders.
There are also those parents who don’t watch you at all — because they cannot handle it, because they don’t know enough to know if you are right, wrong or indifferent, or because they are not physically there for whatever reason. You are the pitch hitter as caregiver and advocate combined for these patients. What an awesome responsibility you have resting on your strong and very capable shoulders.
I write this because as a mom of a child with medical complexities, I know you not only treat the pediatric patient, you treat all the people who come along with that patient. You can make or break a whole room full of people with your quality of care and level of patient and extended patient commitment. What an awesome responsibility you have resting on your strong and very capable shoulders.
I can’t imagine juggling patient care between blubbering moms and angry dads, not to mention the menacing look of the grandparents! I know you care. If you didn’t care, deeply and profoundly, you would not be in this profession. I know the days of caring can take a toll on your mood, your strength and your psyche. I know that while I am complaining about my child not being able to eat before a procedure that has been delayed several times over, you may have just left a room where another child coded while his frightened parents looked on.
Related: Our People in the Waiting Room
I know you probably had no time to reflect on the pains of one patient because you need to move on to the needs of the next one. You console parents in pain and in the same breath you work to fill the legitimate, albeit seemingly unimportant needs of the parents for the patient down the hall. You do this without skipping a beat, without making any patient or family feel as though they are not a top priority. What an awesome responsibility you have resting on your strong and very capable shoulders.
I know you need to take a breath and count to 10 before you come into my child’s room and tell me the procedure that has been delayed for hours is being postponed until the next day. I know you are frustrated about it too. I know there is little you can vent about with me as I go on a tirade. I know you listen to me while I spout off every big word in the medical dictionary to air my grievances about this injustice. I know you are keeping your emotions in check for the greater good, for your sanity, for me, for my child — your patient. What an awesome responsibility you have resting on your strong and very capable shoulders.
I know. But do you know about me? I may look frazzled and be a little wild-eyed. That is because I am trying to muster everything I have to be the very best advocate for my child who is an extension of my heart and my soul. I may seem demanding and needy, because this is not my first rodeo and I have learned from past mistakes. Mistakes I intend to avoid going forward.
You may think I act as though I run the show. Well, I do. I can’t really think of a better way to say that. I have been on this team the longest, I have the most history and the most current knowledge. I am the quarterback; the medical staff make up the rest of the team. The team, together, is invested in my child’s overall well-being. You may think I don’t respect you, but unless you are a heartless, incompetent jerk, I do respect you and your job. But I cannot check my emotions like you. This person, this little human you are caring for, is my life, my passion, my reason for living. So I may sound terse and be difficult, but that is not due to a lack of respect. It is because there is so much at stake.
My child is my only patient, my top priority, my ultimate concern. I am a Mama Bear. I roar. It is the natural order of things when I feel my child is in danger or isn’t receiving what she needs. And yes, sometimes Mama Bears roar for no good reason. When that happens, and inevitably it will, I hope you will consider extending a little grace, at least for first time offenses. After all, we are likely living in the hospital, hyped up on coffee, starving for food and exhausted in ways we never knew were possible.
You may not know this, but I think of you when we leave. I smile when I think of those of you who are amazing and cringe when I think those of you who are less than stellar. Many nights I pray to God, thanking him for your awesomeness, for your kindness, your competence, your composure, your patience and your advocacy for my child and our family.
I am grateful, though you may not ever know. I am grateful that you listen to my tirades and you do not blink an eyelash in irritation. I am grateful that I can trust in your capabilities so I can leave my child in your care, and feel she is safe and secure in my absence. I am grateful that you respect my opinion, my love for my child and my knowledge of my child’s health. I am grateful that you regard me as the best advocate for my child and I can count on you to advocate for us as a family.
I am a mom of a child with medical complexities. I am blessed beyond measure. I live a life I never thought I would live. It was a life that chose me, chose my family. We were given an awesome responsibility to rest on our strong and very capable shoulders. You, my nurse friends, you have chosen to accept such an awesome responsibility to rest on your strong and very capable shoulders. Thank you.