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About the Physical Demand of Becoming a Pediatric Nurse

by Scott Thompson

The pediatric nursing specialty requires most of the same physical abilities as any other nursing position with one significant addition. Most nursing positions do not require the nurse to pick up and carry the patient, but pediatric nurses do have to pick up and carry the children they care for from time to time. However, pediatric nurses don't have to help position much larger adult patients.

What Pediatric Nurses Do

Pediatric nurses working in a primary care setting help with immunizations, check-ups, preventive care and diagnosis. Pediatric nurses working in acute care settings take care of severely ill children and those with chronic medical conditions. The physical demands on a pediatric nurse will vary depending on the setting, but anyone hoping to become a pediatric nurse will be expected to meet the same set of physical requirements as any other nurse in training, with the exception of reasonable accommodations made for disabilities.

Physical Demands of Nursing

Nursing students are expected to perform a variety of physical tasks to prepare them for the demands of the nursing profession. Nursing students must push gurneys, wheelchairs, beds and trash containers from one place to another. They must be able to pull doors open and drag laundry bags across the floor. They must be able to change dressings, operate medical equipment and perform a variety of other tasks requiring dexterity with both hands. They must be able to walk, stand or sit in one place for extended periods of time.

Additional Demands of Pediatric Nursing

In addition to the usual nursing tasks of pushing beds or gurneys and carrying laundry bags, pediatric nurses often have to pick up children. According to General Healthcare Resources, most of the children pediatric nurses care for weigh between 20 and 50 pounds. Pediatric are occasionally asked to lift a child weighing as much as 50 pounds, but would not be expected to lift a child heavier than 50 pounds without help. The State of Utah Student Nursing Program also lists the ability to lift up to 50 pounds as a requirement for pediatric nursing.

Lifting and Positioning

The physical demands of occasionally lifting a 50 pound child may not be greater than the demands of positioning an adult patient in bed. The State of Utah Student Nursing Program considers this task equivalent to lifting about 30 percent of the patient's total weight. For example, positioning a 200-pound adult in bed would be approximately equivalent to lifting 60 pounds. General Healthcare Resources considers all forms of nursing to fall into the medium category for physical demands, meaning that the job requires the ability to occasionally exert between 20 and 50 pounds of force and the ability to frequently exert between 10 and 25 pounds of force.

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