What I (Will) Do

Today for our final peds class we had a guest lecturer, a pediatric nurse practitioner who specializes in oncology AND is the director of the local hospital’s pediatric palliative care program.  Can you say my ideal job?????

Her philosophy about peds palliative care resonated and stayed with me all day.  It is so hard to explain to people why I want to specialize in end-of-life care, particularly with children.  People (even other nurses) scrunch up their noses and say “Why would you wanna do that?”

Perhaps because losing a child is one of the most painful experiences one can have in life.  Perhaps because it exemplifies family nursing.  Not only are you helping a child cope with an untimely death, managing their symptoms and giving them as much quality of life as possible, but you are supporting their parents and siblings and helping them navigate a confusing, heartbreaking, beautiful journey.  Perhaps because children can teach us so much about life and love and spirit.  Perhaps because dying children are still very much alive, and there is much to celebrate about helping them just be kids for as long as possible.

Pediatric palliative care nursing is NOT just watching children die.  It’s being with them as they live and die.  And learning much about ourselves in the process.  The fact is that children will die, despite our best efforts and our prayers and our hopes to the contrary.  But those of us who are called to be present with these children and their families are part of something bigger than ourselves.

What a gift.

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