I have just finished 150+ clinical hours in a pediatric rotation as a family nurse practitioner student, and I realized I’m better with kids than I originally thought I would be. No one is more surprised than I am with this news — kids usually cry when they see me. The kids were actually quite fun, and the parents weren’t bad, most of the time.

Here’s what I’ve learned after this rotation:

  • You will get sick when working with kids. Vaccines and an immune system cannot prepare a provider for the onslaught that these little germ factories will assail you with. Stock up on tissues and hand sanitizer.
  • What you have learned to be the best treatment will not impress parents who want antibiotics. These situations necessitate good communication and negotiation skills. You will come armed with the latest guidelines and evidence-based practices; some parents will come with unproven demands and a history of how other providers always gave them an antibiotic. Sometimes, you will win; sometimes you will lose.
  • Halfway through an exam, you are going to realize that there is some question of abuse. You are going to have to do something about it. That day is going to be a hard day.
  • Your sick patient will give you a hug for being so nice. His little brother will also give you a hug for taking care of his sibling. That kid, and his brother, make it all worth it.

This has been a great rotation and I am so thankful that my preceptor and the staff at the clinic were so very willing to help me learn as much as I could. I am forever thankful for their help.

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As I finish up this semester and begin looking forward to my final semester as a nurse practitioner student, a little bit of fear and trepidation swirls around the edges of my awareness. I wonder if I’m going to be ready to be practicing on my own. I have to trust in the education I’ve received and continue to seek out as many learning experiences as I can in the time I have left. I know this, I am more confident today than I was 12 weeks ago in the care of pediatric patients. I hope that trend continues.

Sean P. L’Huillier, BSN, RN, CEN, is an emergency department nurse currently enrolled in Georgetown University’s School of Nursing and Health Studies Family Nurse Practitioner Program.