What is the Pediatric OR Nursing Specialty?

What Does It Take to Be an Amazing Pediatric OR Nurse?

To keep their young patients safe, the pediatric operating room or perioperative nurse (PED OR) must have a good grasp of the anatomical and physiological differences between children and adults – mainly how a child’s ongoing functional development affects all aspects of perioperative care.

A PED OR is a doubly specialized RN with refined and well-developed personal traits who cares for children and adolescents before, during, and after surgery. Whether the PED OR is talking with the family, caring for the child, or performing as part of the surgical team, the nurse is calm and collected, positive, highly effective in communication, and controls diverse and vital details. To perform as part of the surgical team, the nurse is quick and extremely well-organized. With parents, the PED OR is empathetic and playful with the patient.

Certificate programs are available for RNs to specialize as PED OR nurses. The participants learn age-specific elements of the physiological and psychosocial perioperative evaluation to identify relationships between developmental stages, age-appropriate interventions, and family-centered orientation.

What Are the Main Duties and Tasks of a Pediatric OR Nurse?

The PED OR nursing specialty includes the roles of Pre-Op RNs, Intra-Op RNs, and Post-Op or Post-Anesthesia Care (PACU) RNs, adding the knowledge, expertise, and personal qualities needed with very young patients.

Pre-Op Nursing Role

The Pre-Op nurse prepares the operating room and the patient for the surgical procedure. This entails checking the lab work and the equipment, making sure the pertinent paperwork is appropriately completed and signed, reviewing the medical history carefully, assessing the patient’s physical condition from head to toe to ensure stability and readiness for surgery, registering vital signs, starting IVs, and talking with the patients and their families about the procedure and possible risks. When the patient is a child or a minor, transparent and empathetic communication with the parents or legal guardian is even more critical. With a child, the PED OR finds the terms the child can understand and explains what will happen to ease the patient’s fears when the nurse wheels that vulnerable child away from the family.

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Intra-Op Nursing Role

In the case of children undergoing surgery, the Intra-op nurses are PED ORs working inside the operating room during the procedure. The Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN) divides these nurses into three types, each with their specific tasks in the OR:

  • Scrub nurses who hand the surgeon the specific tools and supplies with timely precision, able to find any surgical items and medications quickly, preferably within 30 seconds, or even anticipate the need
  • Circulating nurses who oversee the overall domain of the OR and ensure a safe, sterile environment
  • RN first assistants actively help the surgeon in controlling bleeding and stitching wounds. This nurse also ensures that all necessary personnel, equipment, and supplies are readily available, as well as completing the necessary paperwork, and sees to it that anyone who enters the OR is an essential and documented addition to the environment. 

Post-Op or PACU Nursing Role

In Post-Op or Post-Anesthesia Care (PACU), the nurse cares for the patient during the first few hours after surgery. The PACU nurse in the pediatric OR recovery room receives the patient from the operating room immediately after the surgical procedure. The patient will be either just regaining consciousness after the anesthesia or awake but still tired. The Post-Op nurse keeps a close watch for complications during this stage, is alert to signs of infection or excessive bleeding, provides pain management, and keeps the patient comfortable. Children need to see a friendly, happy face and hear that they are doing well. The PED OR nurse will also explain the effects of the surgery and the following steps to the family and the patient, depending on the age.

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The Personal Qualities that Make the Difference in the Pediatric OR Nursing Specialty

As a team working in the operating room, the competent PED OR is both self-reliant and collaborative, as well as calm and quick, and is a gritty advocate of the patient’s safety and well-being. 

 As a guide to family, this nurse has developed patience and empathy combined with clear, commanding communication of reality.

As a comforter to the patient, the nurse finds the right time to be fun-loving and happy, singing a silly little song or making a funny face, but always with a careful balance between playtime and treatment.

Emotional stability and resilience are as important as physical endurance in perioperative nursing. Surgical centers tend to be stressful environments, and perioperative nurses must keep up with the pace, often a race against time. 

How much does a Pediatric Operating Room Nurse get paid?

As of Aug 1, 2022, the average annual pay for a PED OR nurse is $97,175, whereas the national average for an OR RN is $70,559.

That is a big difference! And if you are a certified PED OR, you can earn even more working PRN shifts. Land these shifts using the Nursa app.

Download it now!

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