Provider Perspectives

The difficult conversations. Delivering bad news. The resulting emotions. Only a rare day will pass when a physician, nurse or other healthcare professions will not interact with a patient’s (or family member’s) emotions. 

It’s the time of year to make resolutions. Maybe your resolution involves adopting a trauma informed approach to the care of your pediatric patients. Practicing through a trauma informed lens often requires a shift in mindset. 

A common question among doctors and nurses looking to implement trauma informed care is “What does it mean to be trauma informed in my department/unit/practice?” 

Many factors come into play when doctor and nurses practice through a trauma informed lens. There's the fundamental understanding of the traumatic nature of medical care and that patients may arrive with an array of previous traumas. Emphasis is placed on the assessment of the patient and family's distress...

Insufficient time typifies a common concern of doctors and nurses when implementing trauma informed care. While screening a pediatric patient and family for psychosocial risks requires a few additional minutes, at its essence, practicing trauma informed care asks physicians and nurses to view patient interactions through a trauma informed lens.

No one likes to talk about it. No one has enough time for it. However, self care is an essential part of providing trauma informed care. Stress happens to all of us, so what makes working in healthcare unique? 

In recent weeks, hardly a day seems to go by without trauma and tragedy occurring on a national or worldwide level. Witnessing tragedies and violence, whether through the news or social media or from living in communities with high rates of violence, takes a toll on children and families.

By definition, pediatric healthcare is for children but teens, by their own definition, are not like children. There is a true gap in healthcare as young people begin to fall into the 13-25 age group, specifically with the relationship they have with their medical teams and the role they play as a patient. The older that teen/young adult patients get in pediatrics, the more ill-fitting the environment appears and yet, when they transition into adult healthcare, they are too young to easily handle what adults twice their age are discussing.

In the 15 minutes you spend with your pediatric patients, how do you allocate your time? How much is spent on diagnosing and prescribing treatment? Listening to their story?  Does 5 minutes for compassion seem reasonable?

Trauma informed care is often described as a lens or framework to deliver medical care. Why? Because practicing trauma informed doesn't mean checking off boxes mindlessly or screening patients for emotional distress only to meet a requirement.