A private duty nurse can be a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN) that provides personalized care to an individual and their family on a shift basis, not on a visit basis. If you are considering this career for yourself, you’ll appreciate the freedom to work independently, free from the limitations of a large hospital or care facility. Many people in this profession consider themselves their own boss.
Now, if you like the idea of being a private duty nurse but prefer to work with children, there’s a job for you! You can be a pediatric private duty nurse (PDN). You’ll provide the same care to patients – the difference is that they’ll be between the ages of 0 and 20. If they are adult transition patients, we provide care over the age of 20. For most patients, we can continue offering care as long as they qualify for PDN.
Private duty nurses are required to have an active nursing license. Some private duty nursing agencies will train new and experienced nurses how to qualify to provide pediatric private duty nursing services. Because education and training are required to be a private duty nurse, it’s important to learn about this career and the skills that are most valuable, and what your agency may be able to provide supplemental to your formal nursing education. In many cases, being a private duty pediatric nurse will allow you to utilize your most valuable skills while expanding your clinical knowledge and building a career in one of the fastest growing segments of the healthcare industry! Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a private duty nurse for kids.
What Does a Pediatric Home Health Nurse Do?
Pediatric nurses are nurses who specialize in caring for children from birth through adolescence.
Private duty pediatric nurses are slightly different from facility-based or visit nurses because they provide skilled nursing care to children with complex needs for typically eight or 12-hour shifts in the patient’s home. Children who are approved for PDN often have tracheotomies, ventilators, g-tubes, and j-tubes, which require specialized attention for care and to prevent infection. Patients utilizing these devices may have brain damage or have a chronic disease resulting in seizures or other life-threatening vulnerabilities. They all require individualized care to decrease hospital visits and improve quality of life.
Some of the conditions Private Duty Nurses treat include:
- Frequent seizures
- Enteral feeding
- Cystic fibrosis
- Chromosomal abnormalities
- Tracheotomy or ventilator dependency
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neurological conditions
Things to Know Before Becoming a PDN
Now that you know a bit more about what private duty nurses do, here are some of the skills they don’t necessarily teach you in nursing school that you’ll need to succeed in this specialized nursing field.
Good listening skills
Nurses interact with patients and their families more than any other provider. While it’s usually easy to get information from an adult, it’s not as easy with a child. They may not know how to describe what they’re feeling, or they may be nonverbal. This means that it’s up to you to be a good listener and observer.
Not only is it important to watch and listen for the symptoms your young patient may be experiencing, but also you should take note of their home life. Some families have limited financial resources, a lack of transportation, or additional life stressors that may impact the quality of care their child receives. By being aware of these issues, you can work with the family to provide more accessible care.
When dealing with a medically complex child, it’s normal for them and their family to feel scared and out of control. Because these families are dealing with real health issues, it’s vital to maintain good, open communication with them.
Fortunately, kids are resilient. They can be crying from an IV one minute and then giggling the next. When you deliver news to a child, you’ll want to speak slowly and clearly and keep your explanations simple. You can go into more detail with the parents.
Remember that the parents of medically complex children are often stressed and fatigued, so they need extra compassion. Communicate with them just as much as you do with the child. Additionally, be sure to include the siblings in your talks. Families do best with a family-centered approach that includes, engages, and educates everyone in the household!
Empathy and compassion
All nurses need empathy and compassion, but it’s essential for a pediatric home health nurse. These nurses are dealing with medically complex children who have serious, potentially life-threatening health conditions. Even on your hard days, you’ll need to maintain your composure and practice compassion and understanding.
Of course, this is not to say that you shouldn’t have a level of professional separation, as you can’t carry the family’s burdens as your own. But you can put yourself in their shoes and understand where they are coming from. This mindset will help you speak warmly and kindly when dealing with separation anxiety and other issues.
As we mentioned above, you will need to be emotionally stable to be a private duty nurse. You will see turmoil at times, and you must remain calm. These situations can be challenging when a young child is involved, but the patient and their family are counting on you to be strong and level-headed.
When you’re in a calm state of mind, you can also make the right decisions for your patient. As you become a more experienced pediatric nurse, you’ll learn how to handle alarming situations with ease. Being physically fit is also important as it’s not uncommon to work long hours and be on your feet all day.
Education and Training for a Pediatric Private Duty Nurse
If you believe that you have what it takes to be a pediatric home care nurse, you can take the next step to start your nursing education. You’ll need to attend nursing school and pass the NCLEX. Knowledge of PDN and pediatrics can come with hands-on experience in the field as well as the training provided by agencies like Continuum Pediatric Nursing. While there is no specific certification for private duty nurses, making sure your agency supports you is perhaps the most critical step in this exciting career path.
Join the Continuum Pediatric Nursing Team
Continuum Pediatric Nursing is hiring! When you are ready to start working as a pediatric home health nurse, contact Continuum Pediatric Nursing. We have built a caring, compassionate private duty nursing program over the last 29 years that is helping families live together and celebrate life’s simple pleasures.
Many of our nurses have been with us for over 15 years and continue to make a difference in their patients’ lives. We have great benefits and compensation, including paid time off, 401k, weekly pay, employee recognition programs, and more. Contact us today to start or continue your career in pediatric nursing!