Newly qualified nurses

Children’s nursing: Caring from the first moments

Children’s nursing offers a wealth of career opportunities. Senior lecturer at De Montfort University Doreen Crawford outlines some of the options available for nurses who want to specialise in this field.
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Childrens nursing offers a wealth of career opportunities. Senior lecturer at De Montfort University Doreen Crawford outlines some of the options available for nurses who want to specialise in this field

Childrens nursing offers many opportunities to grow and develop your career. More or less anything that is available to nurses in the adult, learning disability and mental health fields is also available for childrens nurses, but there is so much more besides. How many nurses on adult wards get to kick off a medicines round with a game of hide-and-seek in a play room, for example?

A great start is so important. I tell my students, as they prepare to qualify, that their learning starts now. It is not as though you will jump straight from the classroom to extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and

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Children’s nursing offers a wealth of career opportunities. Senior lecturer at De Montfort University Doreen Crawford outlines some of the options available for nurses who want to specialise in this field


Children’s nursing offers a variety of specialist fields. Picture: iStock

Children’s nursing offers many opportunities to grow and develop your career. More or less anything that is available to nurses in the adult, learning disability and mental health fields is also available for children’s nurses, but there is so much more besides. How many nurses on adult wards get to kick off a medicines round with a game of hide-and-seek in a play room, for example?

A great start is so important. I tell my students, as they prepare to qualify, that their learning starts now. It is not as though you will jump straight from the classroom to extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and critical care, but be ambitious in the field you love.

If neonatal care or critical care excites you as a student, think about starting as a newly-qualified nurse in the neonatal unit (NNU), or agree a preceptorship that will involve some work on an intensive care unit.

Building foundations 

If you’re interested in this area, you need to ask how you can attain the competencies required to practise keeping babies and their families safe as you become an expert in providing skilled care.

Typically, an NNU can offer you a programme of preparation that will see you start in a low-dependency area, sometimes called a special care area or a low-dependency nursery. Once you are expert in this, it is time to progress to a high-dependency area. It can feel a bit like starting over again but you will have the firm foundations in place and the thirst to learn and push yourself further.

One thing you have to be prepared for is more studying. Children’s nursing is a generic preparation and, with your first qualification under your belt, you can start to think of specialising.

Many universities offer comprehensive neonatal pathways. De Montfort, where I work, offers a 15-credit foundation module, a 30-credit high-dependency module and an intensive care module, which also carries 30 credits. Completion of all of these will gain you a qualification in your speciality.

Various pathways

You might then seek to extend your role, perhaps in research, teaching or management, but try to retain a clinical element, or you might forget what drew you into nursing in the first place.

You could also consider an outreach service, designed to facilitate early discharge into the community, or a role in supporting the neurodevelopment of infants – an exciting and emerging area.

Adrenaline junkies could consider becoming an advanced neonatal nurse practitioner (ANNP). The ANNP qualification is an important route to other opportunities, such as neonatal transport nursing or taking on your own clinical caseload and supporting medical colleagues.

This is only one speciality within children’s nursing. Much the same could be written of oncology, cardiac and other aspects of children’s care throughout the UK. But for now it is over to you: your future starts here.


About the author 

 

 

 

Doreen Crawford is consultant editor of Nursing Children and Young People. She is a senior lecturer and a governor at De Montfort University, Leicester

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