When I started nursing school at UT Knoxville (That’s right….Vol for Life over here), I never dreamed I would go into the pediatric field. Nursing school was challenging and uncomfortable. It was a “learn by doing” kind of lesson. On the very first day of classes, they made us put on a pair of gloves and then poured chocolate syrup all over our hands. This was supposed to show us how to properly remove the gloves without “contaminating our hands with blood”. And let me tell you, that lesson worked. At least in my book. It also ruined one of my favorite ice cream toppings, but hey, at least I learned something. As the semesters passed, our skills improved, our confidence grew, and we started to decide on the fields we liked (and definitely disliked). I was lucky enough to land a nurse externship at a local children’s hospital in Knoxville, and that is when I found my calling as a pediatric nurse. I am so very thankful for that experience, because it allows me to give you a behind the scenes glimpse of what my typical day looks like.
Ready? Ok keep reading….
Most mornings, my day starts out like any other person’s out there. I walk into the office, cup of caffeine in hand, turn on my computer, slap on my name tag, and get to going.
I pull up the days’ schedule. And guess what? I recognize most of the names on it. That makes me smile. Because I remember when the seven year old little girl was big enough to weigh on the baby scale. I remember the eleven year old boy who did a matrix move on me while trying to escape his kindergarten vaccines. I remember the six month old and her parents who were scared to death the first time they ever came into the office and didn’t know how to make her bottle (which, by the way, is super easy and I would be glad to teach you). I remember that the five year old boy likes Paw Patrol, and that he doesn’t like cheese (what?!? What five year old doesn’t like cheese?!?). And I remember that the 13 year old girl who is now in middle school is the same girl who drew that flower picture that hangs up on the cabinet of the nurse station with the note that says “I love my doctor”.
Even though I don’t recognize all the names on the schedule, that also makes me smile because you never know what personality is going to walk through the door. I love the way kids smile with their whole face and the choices they make when they pick out their own clothes. I love to ask them what their favorite food is because they are always honest with their response. It’s usually pancakes or ice cream or candy. And guess what? I like those things too. Not one of them has ever said avocado toast. It’s definitely overrated and I think people should just stick to butter. I also really love to weigh stuffed animals on the baby scale. I make it a big spectacle. We march back to the room and I announce to the parents how many ounces the stuffed animal weighs – I even write it down on the table paper. Sometimes I even document the name of the stuffed animal. My favorite one was a Zebra named Valerie along with a fish named Sparkle Earring.
All this to say, my job is really fun. And meaningful. I love seeing how the weeks and months and years change people. I love to celebrate with the families when that baby meets a weight goal, or when that elementary school kid makes the soccer team and has to have a sports form, or when that teenager finally gets that driver’s license. I see my own children in the children that visit the clinic. I hear my own parenting questions from the parents that visit the clinic. I laugh and feel true joy every day that I get to work in an environment where we are all growing up together. And while there are some unpleasant things about being a pediatric nurse (ahem…..shots?), I know that it’s a vital and necessary task to help protect the world against disease. I get to do a job that truly makes a difference. (And, just for the record, shots aren’t that bad everyone, ok? I even use the cold spray and pick out really cool band-aids.) Just sit still and it will all be over with quickly (Ok I’m truly laughing as I write this because not a day goes by where I don’t exercise my expert wrestling skills).
To sum it all up, I think a quote by Mother Teresa describes the field of nursing pretty well…..
“Do small things with great love.”
No task is too small that can’t be done with love. Happy Nurse’s Week to all!