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Pediatric Nurse Practitioners: Here’s What You Need to Know

Most advance practice nurses see many problems that impact patients in their focus demographic. Pediatric nurse practitioners are no exception to this rule, as they regularly encounter issues that affect children’s health and well-being. From bullying to prescription medicine abuse, discover four important pediatric nursing concerns and learn about some recent innovations that enable these professionals to do their jobs better.

Bullying

With nearly one-third of children affected by bullying, either as victims or instigators, this stands out as a significant concern for health care providers. As Nursing Clinics reports, pediatricians and pediatric nurses have the potential to take on a key role in identifying the common signs of bullying. From there, they can assess affected patients’ health and intervene as necessary. Since bullying has long-term effects for everyone involved, identifying and addressing it as early as possible may ease some of the negative effects and improve young patients’ well-being. According to the federal initiative StopBullying.gov, bullies may abuse drugs and alcohol as adolescents or adults, engage in sexual activity as young teens, and abuse both romantic partners and children later in life. Victims of bullying may experience depression, unhealthy eating patterns, a range of health issues, and poor academic performance. In order to take on the important role of putting an end to bullying, however, pediatric care providers must first understand what bullying looks like and know how they can help effectively. StopBulling.gov recommends that pediatric nurses employ early detection methods by asking patients questions about their friendships and their experiences with bullying and following up with more questions when patients show new fears or attention issues. In addition, pediatricians and pediatric nurses can engage parents about bullying with education, reading materials, and tip sheets. Nurses may also serve as resources for schools and parent-teacher associations, especially by offering to speak to groups of parents or administrators.

Childhood Obesity

Like bullying, childhood obesity impacts about one in every three children, making this another pressing concern for pediatric nurses. As the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) explains, the effects of childhood obesity often linger into adulthood, resulting in long-term physical and mental health issues. To combat these concerns, the association recommends that pediatric nurses learn to identify at-risk children and infants as early as possible, increase educational offerings for parents and caregivers, and understand best practices for providing care for obese patients. In addition, NAPNAP recommends that pediatric health care providers devise methods for helping families encourage healthy eating habits and regular physical activity during patients’ first two years. Developing healthy patterns during this important growth period can prevent patients from developing childhood obesity or enduring the many negative effects of this condition. To make an even greater impact, NAPNAP recommends that pediatric nurses take part in clinical research to the best of their abilities. Advocating for community resources and programs can also increase awareness and understanding of this issue while helping to end it. Pediatric nurses may also be able to use innovations such as telemedicine to address childhood obesity. This technology connects health care providers with patients in more rural areas and allows for more frequent check-ins, potentially enabling nurses to treat obesity-related issues more effectively.

Chronic Illnesses

Children are developing chronic illnesses such as asthma at higher rates than in years before. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, about one in 10 children had asthma in 2009. Children are at higher risk of experiencing an asthma attack than adults, and children with asthma miss an average of four days of school per year. While pediatric nurses may not be able to reduce the number of asthma diagnoses, they can help patients and caregivers control their symptoms and lower the chances of experiencing an attack. In addition to educating patients and families about asthma triggers and how to avoid them, pediatric nurses can also help young patients develop action plans. As the Journal of Pediatric Nursing explains, a recent study concludes that children with greater family support and a better sense of control over their own treatment plans may handle chronic conditions more effectively. Pediatric nurses can apply this knowledge by helping young patients better understand their chronic conditions and develop effective treatment routines. According to the Children’s Hospital Association, this focus on family centered care is essential for pediatric nurses, who rely on community support and family participation to keep children healthy and high-functioning despite chronic conditions.

Prescription Medicine Abuse

The growing rate of prescription drug abuse among children and adolescents has not received as much national attention as similar abuse by adults, but pediatric health care providers are likely to encounter this issue more and more often. According to Contemporary Pediatrics, about one in four teenagers admits to abusing prescription drugs, and about one in eight admits to using another person’s medication. Like many other pediatric issues, addressing adolescent prescription medication abuse starts with education. For instance, pediatric nurses can warn parents and caregivers about the frequency and dangers of medication abuse and tell parents to lock away controlled substances. In addition, pediatric nurses may help to reduce instances of abuse by diagnosing issues such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as early as possible. As HealthyChildren.org explains, early intervention and treatment may lower children’s risks of developing substance abuse issues later in life. As pediatric health care providers increasingly rely on recent technologies such as electronic health records (EHRs), they may also develop improved methods for addressing both ADHD and prescription medicine abuse. With such a comprehensive view of a patient’s health history at their fingertips, pediatric nurses can better understand how to treat young patients’ conditions effectively. With so many critical issues to discuss, pediatric nurses face significant yet important workloads ahead. Learn more about how pursuing an online Family Nurse Practitioner degree may offer a unique opportunity to positively impact young patients’ lives.   Sources: https://www.childrenshospitals.org/newsroom/childrens-hospitals-today/winter-2017/articles/25-biggest-pediatric-health-care-innovations-in-25-years http://www.nursing.theclinics.com/article/S0029-6465(13)00029-7/fulltext http://www.nursing.theclinics.com/article/S0029-6465(13)00015-7/abstract http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0882596316304493 https://www.stopbullying.gov/resources-files/roles-for-pediatricians-tipsheet.pdf http://www.jpedhc.org/article/S0891-5245(15)00152-2/fulltext http://www.pediatricnursing.org/article/S0882-5963(14)00306-6/fulltext http://www.nursing.theclinics.com/article/S0029-6465(13)00011-X/fulltext https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/asthma/index.html https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/adhd/Pages/ADHD-and-Substance-Abuse-The-Link-Parents-Need-to-Know.aspx http://contemporarypediatrics.modernmedicine.com/contemporary-pediatrics/content/tags/abusing-prescription-drugs/kids-misuse-abuse-prescription-drugs