How Do Pediatric Nurses Build Trust with Their Patients?

Becoming a pediatric nurse will provide you with the opportunity to positively impact the life of a child at a time when they need you most.

Child patients often do not know about their illnesses and seek out someone they can trust. As a pediatric nurse, you receive that gift of trust. Your young patients may turn to you for answers when upset or scared and believe you without hesitation.

However, you might wonder how to build trust with your child patients. This article outlines several strategies that pediatric nurses use to build trust and meaningful relationships with their child patients to ensure better health outcomes.

Create a child-friendly environment

Creating a safe and child-friendly environment is the initial step in engaging child patients and encouraging cooperation in their treatment. Whether that would be designing the room with age-appropriate decorations and toys or talking about their favorite cartoon character, establishing a safe and quiet environment is essential in building a friendly relationship with children.

Moreover, being honest and open about what is going on and what will happen will also impact how cooperative your child patient will be. Use simple language and descriptions to help every child understand as they do not process information like their parents.

In short, you must communicate in a manner custom-tailored to the child’s age and developmental level. Nurses should also be upfront with the child about a specific procedure. For instance, when a child asks if the shot will be painful, nurses should never tell them it won’t hurt if it will. Although this might seem counterintuitive, informing them will reduce their anxiety and help them know what to expect.  

Introduce yourself and call the child patient by their name

Introducing yourself is equally important as the first point in building any healthcare relationship, and this is no different when treating pediatric patients. While introductions are seemingly obvious, it is common for pediatric nurses to forget this step, especially when working in a fast-paced healthcare setting that requires them to meet multiple demands.

According to a recent survey, roughly 86% of nurses reported that care activities such as introductions are often left undone because they are pressed for time and need to care for another patient. Although it can be challenging to remember every patient’s name in a busy healthcare setting, initial introductions are usually essential in building rapport.

As you are the first point of contact for child patients, you must make them feel that they have someone to call upon if they want to do so. Introduce yourself to the child patient, and ask them what they prefer to be called. Doing so can put the patient at ease and make their treatment more personalized. By personalizing their care, you can engage children in their healthcare and help them become more positive in distressing times.

Show children that you are listening

It is essential to listen when building trust with your child patients. You can make children feel heard and crucial by actively listening to them. However, it’s not always easy to do. Sometimes nurses mutter the occasional ‘yes’ when they speak while taking a blood sample and writing on their chart.

You might ask how to do this. Of course, no one-size-fits-all formula exists, but you can start by making eye contact and following up with questions to find more information. Observe your body language and clarify that children have your full attention. Let them talk and summarize their words and feelings.

By listening actively, you can strengthen your communication and improve your relationship with the child. This is because active listening lets them know that you care and are interested. If that’s not good enough, it can also help you learn and understand what’s going on in your child patient’s life, which can be essential in treating them correctly.

However, it is worth noting that active listening does not necessarily mean that you have to do all the talking. As a matter of fact, it’s the contrary. By talking less and echoing what the child says, you give yourself more opportunities to understand what they are saying. This way, you can help your child patients think more clearly because they can express their thoughts and feelings without judgment and correction.

How to become a pediatric nurse

A positive nurse-patient relationship when caring for pediatric patients is critical in meeting a high standard of healthcare. To achieve such a high standard, nurses must learn to care for children through formal courses and guided clinical experiences.

One way of doing this is enrolling in online pediatric NP programs at revered academic institutions such as Baylor University to hone your critical thinking, nursing and communication skills. By taking these nurse practitioner programs, you can gain deep knowledge of child growth and development, as illnesses and conditions in young individuals are often treated differently.

Upon completion of the pediatric nursing program, you must pass the National Council Licensure Exam before applying to work at a healthcare facility that serves pediatric patients. Some of these sites provide orientations, which allow you to gain clinical experience directed to the unique characteristics of children.

You may also apply for certifications through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) to validate your expertise and ensure that you have the right skills necessary to help pediatric patients meet their unique needs. Other than the PNCB, you can also apply for certification programs for pediatrics at the American Nurses Credentialing Center to demonstrate a superior level of clinical competence.

Are you still interested in pediatric nursing?

If you are still interested in pediatric nursing after reading this article, the next step is to sign up and enroll on a course.