This post is part of a series to help prepare the nursing student for specific areas of study. You can find how to prepare for nursing school Maternal Newborn (here) and Medical/Surgical (here). Nursing school will provide you with basic knowledge about pediatric nursing if you choose to pursue this field of nursing. While in nursing school you will learn fundamentals like vaccines, childhood illnesses, medical care and patient education. These classes go fast and there is a lot of information to take in. This post will help you prepare to build that foundation or refresh your memory.
There is a lot of information so instead of going into to much detail this post will provide you with some of the foundation material that you need to learn and understand. So be ready to hit the books or do some google searches. Also, your college should provide you with a study guide and their own selection of books to help you prepare for the exams. Three books that I highly recommend you invest in and that I used personally are listed below. You can click on the names to find out how much they cost on Amazon.
- Lippincott Q&A Review for NCLEX-RN
- Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination
- Pediatric Success: A Q&A Review Applying Critical Thinking to Test Taking
Now onto the meat of the subject. Remember every program and college is different and I can only provide you with my own experiences and information. It is important to focus on what your program requires and what information they want you to know. The information below is fundamental so it will help you with the basics of pediatric nursing.
Erickson’s Stages of Development
When it comes to nursing school it is all about the levels of development. So you better believe you need to know these stages! Growth and Development is a key factor when it comes to exams and the NCLEX. Understanding this information will help you answer questions when it comes to pediatrics and even adults. Some information out there has some differences with the ages but the stages are the same. So your school might say infancy is from age 0-1 instead of age 0-2.
Infancy (Age 0-1)
Trust vs. Mistrust: The child’s basic needs must be met by the caregiver. This allows the child to grow and develop meaningful trusting relationships in the future.
Stage of Play: Solitary Play
Early Childhood (Age 1-3)
Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt: The child likes to explore the world and develop their own interests. They start to satisfy their own needs and wants. At this stage they are developing a sense of self worth and handling their own problems and become self sufficient.
Stage of Play: Parallel Play
Preschool (Age 3-6)
Initiative vs. Guilt: The child is developing the idea of planning and taking control of what they want. They learn to do more tasks independently and complete actions with a purpose. This stage is focused on challenges and independence.
Stage of Play: Associative Play
School Age (Age 6-12)
Industry vs. Inferiority: The child wants to be apart of the world. They are learning more complex skills like reading and writing. The child aims to receive recognition from teachers and parents by creating and producing things like writings and solving problems.
Stage of Play: Cooperative Play
Adolescence (Age 12-18)
Identity vs. Role Confusion: The adolescent is concerned with who they are and how they appear to others like their peers. They are searching for their identity and role in life.
Stage of Play: Cooperative Play
The list of stages goes on into adulthood (generativity vs. stagnation) and maturity (ego integrity vs. despair., but since these are adult stages I am leaving them out of this post. You will need to know all the stages while in nursing school.
Disease Processes and Other Important Topics
There are a ton of diseases out there and your nursing school may focus on different ones, below is a list of diseases I learned in nursing school and you will probably need to know them as well. I skipped out on the details because the amount of information on these can be massive. I know the list is massive but do not freak out over it, your school will break down the information into sections for you while you are learning the information. This is just a list to help you get familiar and recognize the names and if you have free time look up the name and find out what the disease does to the body. Also, if you do some research on these diseases think about as a nurse what kind of interventions would you use to treat the patient who is suffering?
Vaccinations & Immunizations
Vaccines are a hot topic and no matter what your beliefs are you need to know the vaccine schedule and how to administer certain vaccines to children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are responsible for updating the schedule. There is a trick to memorizing the schedule though and of course I am going to give it to you. Memorize this and I promise you will have no issues. USMLE created a YouTube video that simplifies memorizing the vaccine schedule (click here).
Dehydration is the most common Fluid & Electrolyte imbalance in children so you will need to learn how to replace those fluids and get the child stable. Nursing school will teach you how to assess for dehydration. These are things like sunken fontanels, dry mucus membranes, tenting of the skin and decreased urine output. As a nurse your interventions may focus on recording intake and output, daily weights and fluid replacement. Below is a table of how to accurately calculate fluid replacement on children. Now in the real world I doubt nurses are doing this math by hand but for purposes of school you will need to know this formula and perform the calculation.
I know this post covered a lot of information and you will cover even more then what is listed here while in nursing school. I hope this post was helpful and is a good foundation to get your started or refresh those brain cells. If you have any questions please feel free to comment on this post or send me a message on Instagram (here).