Highlighting the work of children’s endocrine nurse specialists

Nursing Children and Young People have started a continuing professional development series of six articles, looking at the role of the children’s endocrine nurse specialist.  Here the authors outline the role and why they find this specialty such a fascinating area to work in.

Children’s endocrine nurses across the UK and Ireland have a wealth of knowledge, clinical expertise and enthusiasm for the specialty in which they work.

Every day we demonstrate a professional commitment to delivering high quality nursing care to children and young people with endocrine problems, and their families.

However, we have not been a visible specialty in the nursing literature. There is scant information and evidence in the published literature about our work and the role we play in contributing to children’s health, growth and development.

Many of the children we care for are not hospitalised, but the endocrine condition they have often has a significant impact on their growth, development and daily lives.

The small size of the nursing teams in NHS trusts and the complexity of the work has led us to develop a supportive and lively network of nurses across the UK and Ireland, who frequently share information and experience to benefit their patients.

The two professional organisations central in bringing us together are the British Society for Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes (BSPED) and the RCN. For many years we have wanted to write about and share the work we do, and at last, by supporting each other in this new venture we have managed to pull it together in a series of six continuing professional development articles in Nursing Children and Young People.

The aim of the series is to share with you why we find this subject area so interesting, and to integrate key aspects of our roles by providing examples of our work.  We are always aware of the clinical implications of what we do on children and their families, and many of the 'time outs' in the articles encourage you to think about the impact of investigations, diagnosis and ongoing treatment.

Understanding the nature of the endocrine system, and the glands and hormones that control and regulate the body, will enable you to develop a greater understanding of bodily functions relating to growth, fluid and electrolyte balance, puberty and reproduction, and response to stress. 

The articles aim to jog the memory of some of you, inform others and present new information to stimulate interest and further reading.

CPD series - the role of the children's endocrine nurse specialist

We begin with consideration of normal and atypical growth, emphasising the importance of accurate measuring and assessment of growth.

The second article offers insight into the challenges faced by children who have adrenal insufficiency, reminding us of the function of the adrenal glands in contributing to homeostasis in the body and the life threatening situation of adrenal crisis.

The third article focuses on enhancing your understanding of clinical investigations that contribute to the diagnosis of endocrine disorders in childhood.

Our fourth article explores vitamin D deficiency, and through the use of case studies enables you to learn about appropriate advice for families regarding their requirement for supplementation.

Article five focuses on the most common endocrine disorder in children who are short in stature.  

Finally, we have an article illustrating how endocrine nurse specialists come together with oncology nurse specialists, to care for young people who have survived cancer and now face the possibility of late effects resulting from the negative impact from radiation, chemotherapy and surgery on the endocrine system.  

We hope you enjoy this glimpse into a fascinating and complex specialty.

The first article, An introduction to growth and atypical growth in childhood and adolescence, is available now.

About the authors

Jacqueline Collin is lecturer, King’s College London

Kate Davies, is paediatric endocrine nurse specialist, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust, London

Lee Martin is clinical nurse specialist, paediatric endocrinology, Barts Health NHS Trust, London

Sinéad Moloney is a clinical nurse specialist in paediatric endocrinology and 

Nuala Murphy is a consultant paediatric endocrinologist, both at Children's University Hospital Dublin

Pauline Musson is clinical nurse specialist, paediatric endocrinology, Southampton Children’s Hospital

Tanya Urquhart is Macmillan clinical nurse specialist in paediatric and teenage and young adult late effects, Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust

Jenny Walker is a children's endocrine nurse specialist and Amanda Whitehead is a children's endocrine nurse specialist, both at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust



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