PedNIG Paediatric Nursing Skills Workshop: March 2016

On Saturday, March 05, 2016, I had the privilege of attending the Paediatric Skills Workshop hosted by the Paediatric Nursing Interest Group (PedNIG) of RNAO. The event was held at McMaster Medical Centre in Hamilton, Ontario. A large group of nursing students from nursing schools across Ontario eagerly attended the event, hoping to learn something new about the field of paediatrics. The room was filled with excited and anxious nursing students, waiting to hear from respectable and established paediatric registered nurses, hoping to pick their brains and learn some skills of the trade.

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The day began with open remarks from PedNIG RNAO representatives and executives, outlining the agenda for the day. The line up of speakers and presenters proved to be very exciting for the students, with a wide variety of speakers – from professionals who have been in practice for 20+ years, to new graduates who are all to familiar with the feelings of the students in the room. It was interesting to see the wide rang of experiences come together and speak about Paediatric nursing through different yet similar lenses. Each speaker and presented provided different perspectives and illustrated different ways of approaching this practice through their individualized experiences.

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The morning progressed with starting by learning how to complete a head-to-toe assessment of the paediatric population. We analyzed the process of how to conduct various health assessments in children ages 0-18 years of age, and how to act on complications found during certain assessments. It was a comprehensive review of the anatomy and physiology of the paediatric population that touched on key concepts and skills in paediatric nursing.

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The next session that followed was an overview of medication administration and dosage calculation for the paediatric population. Through this session, nursing students learned about different forms of administrating certain medications with various paediatric patients. We learned about how to assess for any signs and symptoms, how to assess for any adverse effects/toxic effects, etc. We also learned how to calculate the appropriate dosage of medication for paediatric patients depending on their weight and their condition. Students were attentive, actively participating, and collaborative with their peers throughout the entire session.

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The morning concluded by learning about paediatric mental health. This was a very new topic introduced to the practice of paediatric nursing, as mental health – up until recently – was not a standard assessment practiced in medicine. With increasing demands of putting more of a focus on mental health within health care, the paediatric population has proven to be one of the most vulnerable populations for instability in mental health. Through this particular session, we learned why exactly that is and certain influencing factors that affect the mental health of children. We learned what kinds of plans of action and intervention that paediatric nurses can take, in order to ensure that our patient population has a cohesive mental health. We learned about the importance of providing family-centred care and patient-centred care, and how we – as nurses – can play an important role as a source of support for our patients and their families.

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Following the morning’s workshop sessions, a lunch break ensued and afterwards, the afternoon’s session began. The afternoon’s session covered important topics in the field of paediatric nursing such as “Hot Topics in Paediatrics,” covering key illnesses and complications amongst the paediatric population (i.e Asthma, Type I Diabetes, pain). Following the Hot Topics session, a panel of esteemed professionals in the field conducted a Questions and Answers session with the students. This proved to be the highlight of the entire event, as students eagerly asked questions about the field and how to pursue a career in paediatrics as nurse to experienced professionals. Students asked questions such as:

“How do I gain experience in paediatrics as a student?”

“What makes a resume outstanding?”

“How can we maximize our experience in our clinical placements?”

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The panel of esteemed professionals were all too welcoming and eager to answer any inquiries and concerns that the students had. They answered with a high level of efficiency and conviction. The students were very receptive to the replies and very eager to participate in the discussions that were facilitated through the Q&A panel. This last session proved to be the most exciting aspect of the entire event and was a good way to end the day.

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Needless to say, the entire event proved to be very useful and very interactive for both the student attendees and the event hosts. The workshop was able to enhance the professional development of nursing students eager to build a career in paediatrics in a very significant way. The response to the various sessions held throughout the day were quite positive and enabled PedNIG – RNAO to be hopeful for future sessions. The event overall proved to be a huge success and attendees – myself included – left learning something new and feeling one step closer to their goals of becoming paediatrics nurses.

Work vs. Play for Early Childhood

Having an ECE background, I have become knowledgeable on the importance of play. With that said, I believe our society is becoming more and more fixated on the importance of intelligence which is apparently gained through worksheets, mathematical equations and letter recognition. More and more parents are expecting their children who have not yet turned three to be able to write numbers and letters with markers, identify all of the letters of the alphabet, spell their name and completing various math and literacy worksheets etc. What ever happened to good old fashioned fun? What many parents fail to realize is the ongoing learning that happens during play. Children learn to sort based on colour, organize connecting blocks into patterns, sequence objects from smallest to largest, count blocks they are using to build a tower etc. I think many parents overlook the many lessons children learn both on their own, with peers and with the guidance of their teachers.

More and more preschool programs are being introduced to programs such as Jolly Phonic and Handwriting Without Tears etc. I am not saying that such programs are not useful tools to learning literacy, however I don’t think they should replace play. When I was first introduced to the program Jolly Phonics in my first year placement in a Kindergarten classroom, I thought to myself, ”Wow! This is great! The children are learning so much and they are going to be so ahead of the game”. What I failed to consider, which a co-worker later pointed out, is that the children are indeed, ahead of the game. When entering grade one, parents returned to the centre expressing their gratitude for their children having learned so much, but their disappointment that they’re children have become bored as they are learning the same lessons they had learned the year before. An additional problem is that with boredom, in many cases, comes behavioural outbursts.

So what now? Can there be a balance between work and play? In my opinion, I think worksheets should be left until elementary school. Children need to learn how to interact with other children, how to share and how to engage in play. I believe this should come before learning our ABC’s and 123’s. I am not belittling the importance of academics, but I do believe early childhood should revolve around play and the learning that can come from playful experience. You’d be shocked at how many children don’t even know how to engage in play. Many children will wander the room aimlessly not sure of what to do or where to begin. Children need to learn the basics of play such as engaging in imaginative play, play with tangible materials and social play. So let’s put the worksheets aside for a moment and let our children do what they do (or are learning to do) best, play!

Image from: http://trustingconnections.com/blog/2012/08/29/tucson-family-tip-of-the-week-build-upon-your-childs-strengths/

To have Kids, or not to have Kids?

When many people think about the purpose of life, one word comes to mind…children. I personally have always wanted to have children. I looked at my life and I knew that children were such a large part, especially working with children, and I knew that being a mother was something I was meant to do. At 23, I am still interested in having children, however I can understand why some individuals may not want to. Children are time consuming. Once children are in the picture, it is no longer about you, it’s about them. You’re no longer looking out for number one (yourself), you’re looking out for the new number one (your children). In addition, children are expensive. Throughout their child to adolescent life they need to be provided for. Food, clothing, housing, school and any other necessities are now the reason for waking up and going to work in the morning. The thought of planning a trip to Europe to explore the culture and experience something new no longer exists. Why? Because many families cannot afford this luxury once children are in the picture.

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I am an advocate for doing what is best for you. If you want to have children, have children. If you don’t, then don’t. For instance, my sister has never wanted children. She doesn’t consider herself to be a maternal figure nor does she want to be. It’s more about becoming successful, doing what she loves and enjoying her life the way she wants it to be. Does this make her a bad person? Not in the slightest. She is a woman who knows what she wants and caring for a child just isn’t one of them. In this case, I hope she (and others who share similar viewpoints) doesn’t have children. Not only will it turn her world upside down and make her miserable, but the lack of joy in her life will consequently affect her child’s life as well.  The unfortunate truth is that we are still living in a society that revolves their life plan around what is considered to be the “nuclear family”; an ideal family with two children and two parents. This is what our parents have done, our grandparents have done, and our great-grandparents have done (I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the picture). There is so much pressure for marriage and children that sometimes we forget to consider what we actually want.

Don’t get me wrong, children are wonderful. I work with them everyday and although some days are more difficult than others, I truly enjoy their curiosity, innocence and love. I hope to be a mother one day (and hopefully afford a trip here and there too) and experience the joy a mother does when she holds her child. I one day want to feel the exciting and terrifying miracle of pregnancy. I want to watch my children grow and one day become adults themselves. But as mentioned earlier, this isn’t for everyone.

In life, we get to choose the paths we lead. We make our decisions (good and bad) and learn from them. Maybe children will be a part of your life journey, or maybe they won’t be. At the end of the day, you need to stay true to yourself. That’s the only way you’ll be happy, with or without children.

Gift Ideas for a One Year Old

My nephew’s very first birthday is coming up and my sister is throwing him a birthday party.  Now this brought on the dilemma: What do I get a one year old for his birthday? After some shopping and some careful consideration, here are some ideas I came up with.

Clothes: Parent are often buying essentials for their kids so clothes are always something adorable to add. Places you can find clothes are The Children’s Place, Old Navy, Carter’s, Babies R Us, H&M, Sears, and The Bay. Make sure to keep receipts as the child may not fit into the clothes even though it is intended for a child one year of age.

Shoes: Around 1 year old is when kids start to walk. Buying shoes for them is a good idea for this age. When looking for shoes, make sure find shoes with good grip at the bottom.

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Toys: Toys are usually a favourite for kids. Although if you are my nephew, you have more fun playing with the Swiffer. That does not mean toys are not a good option. When buying toys, make sure they are age appropriate and safe. Look for toys that are educational and good for a longer age range. Some kids can grow out of toys quickly such as a race car that they will fit in for only a few months. If choosing a toy that makes noises, try to find one that has an off switch and the parents will likely thank you. Bath toys are also an option if the child likes baths. When looking for a bath toy, find ones that are easy to clean because bacteria easy thrives on these toys.

Books: Although kids cannot read at the age of one, there are many benefits to people reading to kids. No need to wait on building to book collection, you can start now.

Educational fund: If the child has an educational fund already set up, you can contribute to this fund. Being honest, a one year old will not likely remember what you got him for his first birthday. Contributing to his or her future education may be more practical.

Card: I was disappointed with the card selection when I went card shopping. I have decided to make a card for my nephew instead. This gives a special touch to an occasion such as someone’s first birthday ever. Although he or she may not remember, it can be kept as a keepsake until the child gets older. The parents or guardians are likely to appreciate the gesture as well. If you are not the artistic type, cards can easily be made on the computer and printed and glued to card stock. You can also use a photograph or parts of a photograph for your card.

I hope you found these ideas useful. Happy birthday to all those one year olds!

 

Feeding the Children: Hungercount 2011

Food Banks Canada released the Hunger Report in October and the news is bad. Really bad. Surprisingly bad when you consider new housing continues to grow and consipcuous consumption doesn’t seem to be on the wane. Food bank use remains stubbornly fixed at near record levels established in the darkest depth of the 2009 recession.

The snapshot picture is that food bank use is 26% higher than it was prior to the recession and is currently at its second highest rate of use on record. Food Banks Canada maintains that the rate of food bank use is very closely tied to the unemployment rate. I am not well researched enough to challenge whether this is a causal relationship or merely correlative. I am sure however that the structural inequities that are built in to our Capitalist systems of food production and distribution will keep people hungry even in the boom years and I hope that most Canadians, should they stop to think about it, would find this reprehensible. We live in a country with a food surplus, where we scrape 40% of the food we have into the garbage (Bain, 2011) yet 2 of every 5 children in Toronto are hungry.

Food Banks Canada, without alienating the corporate or public sponsors that float the boats of its member agencies, outline the fact that poverty costs more than possible solutions might. They touch on affordable housing, social assistance, protecting seniors, EI, maintaining a strong Canada Social Transfer and the issue closest to my heart: Invest in Early Learning and Child Care. They give a brief but effective outline citing that every $1 invested in early learning and care will boost the economy by $2.40 in the long term.  I pause here to contemplate the power that good early years experiences might have on all children but in particular on families at risk.

What if there was a place for a single mother to drop her children off so she could go to work? This might just enable her to raise her small family out of poverty. What if there were healthy groceries and a blender at that school where young children could make a smoothie with yogurt, fresh fruit and protein supplement for breakfast (don’t laugh – I’ve done this with two year olds in our co-op daycare)? They would have a balanced breakfast and be set up for learning for less than a dollar. If another tired round of Wheels on the Bus at circle time were replaced by a themed discussion, a probing question, an instrument workshop and jamboree, they might have a nice time and build some self esteem. What if the learning environment was enriched with stations such as you might find in a Montessori school instead of the play depots you so often find in public kindergarten rooms? What if those kids were served fresh homemade lunches made for them by their older peers and those that couldn’t afford to pay would still get to eat and no one would know who was who? What if those kids stayed at school until their parents could pick them up after work for a nominal fee (since the facilities are idling once the school bell rings) and they got outside to run around and play and be free instead of wasting away in front of a television set because parents don’t feel safe letting them run free on the city streets?

Maybe some amazing things would start to happen. In the short term, their interest in school might pick up. The schools could act, like they once did, as clinical contacts for the Healthy Child Screening Programme and community gathering places. Maybe the kids and their parents would feel engaged. Maybe once a week the kids would invite their parents to a stone soup party, where everyone brings something and makes a meal together. This might be a chance to share experiences and learn some cooking and nutrition tips and maybe even take home some leftovers. The ideas are there to nourish the child and the family and we cannot afford not to do it.

All stats and facts pulled from

Food Banks Canada (2011). HungerCount 2011. Toronto: Food Banks Canada. Downloaded from http://www.cafb-acba.ca/hungercount (downloaded October 30, 2011)

except food waste

Bain, Jennifer (January 14, 2011). Food Waste: an Unappetising $27B Problem. Toronto: Toronto Star.Downloaded from http://www.thestar.com/living/food/article/920663–food-waste-an-unappetizing-27b-problem (October 31, 2011)