By Matthew Cyr
Jenifer Sant, RN, BSN
16 years as a nurse; the last 13 on Children’s Neurosurgical
What kind of patients do you take care of?
Children with epilepsy make up the biggest part of the program,
but we deal with seizures of all types. We also care for kids with
hydrocephalus, which is accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the
brain, and children with brain tumors, back injuries, closed head
injuries and other neurological disorders.
Do adults and children recover differently from brain
Definitely. An adult with a closed head injury, stroke, aneurysm
or traumatic brain injury is often left neurologically devastated.
But since the brain isn’t fully developed in children for
many years, their brains can reprogram themselves. We’ve seen
children with the same diagnoses as adults come in after extensive
rehab walking and talking. We do a surgery here for kids with severe
seizures called a hemispherectomy where up to half of the brain
may be removed, and it’s amazing to watch them recover. Unless
you’re a neurologist or a neuroscience nurse you may not know
that they had such major surgery.
What have you learned about nursing that you can’t
learn in school?
To highly value and act on what parents say. There have been several
times when a child just doesn’t look right when I walk into
the room and I can’t put my finger on what’s wrong,
so I’ll ask the mother “aside from fact that your child
is in hospital, are you really worried about him right now?”
If she says yes, then I get worried.
Do you worry about getting too emotionally involved
You need to get involved with your patients, but you have to cut
yourself off a little bit when your emotions get involved. If you’re
upset it doesn’t do anyone any good. You need to be an advocate
for that child and present yourself as a professional to the rest
of the care team. If they sense you’re getting too emotional
they may not listen to you as they should.
As a clinical coordinator, what do you miss about bedside
Just walking into the room and saying, “I’m going to
be your nurse today.” I try to pick up extra shifts here and
there when I can be at the bedside, because that’s what I
do best and I would really miss it if I wasn’t able to do
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nursing at Children’s, contact Cindy Zilch in the Children’s
Hospital Trust at (617) 355-2416 or email@example.com.