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Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing

College of Health Sciences

Nursing Careers:
Pediatric Nursing / Pediatric Rehab


Sarah Stepans, RN, CRRN

  • University of Wyoming School of Nursing
    BSN '04

What drew you to this career?

I have always loved working with children. They are incredibility resilient! It is an amazing experience working with children and their families, watching them adapt and learn how to reintegrate into the community with a new disability or disease. It is truly humbling to see how children adapt within their new reality and how they guide their care, they teach their parents, they teach their friends. I wanted to be part of the team that helps take care of, empower, and advocate for children.

How did you prepare for it?

I was lucky enough to get the exact job, on the exact floor that I wanted. I started my career at Seattle Children's Hospital on the Rehab and Complex Care Unit. During my last semester in nursing school I began applying to multiple children's hospitals and on multiple floors. I concentrated on learning as much as I could about preparing to work in pediatric acute care. I asked for recommendation letters from previous employers and from professors. I prepared for the interviews by talking with professors and preceptors about common scenarios that may take place on the acute care floor. 

What do you like the most about this career?

I love working in a family centered care environment/culture. I think it is so important to center care around not only the patient, but the family as well. I don't think that it is just within the pediatric population that this is important, but all populations. Although within the pediatric population, it becomes so important when caring for a child. Parents/Guardians know the child the best. They are the teachers. As the nurse, we just empower these teachers to take care of their little ones. We become a team when taking care of sick, injured and/or disabled children. I feel that working with families can be the most challenging part about working with the pediatric population; I feel it is one of the most rewarding aspects of this career.

What are the biggest challenges?

Working with families is probably one of the biggest challenges in this area of nursing. You are not only taking care of the child, but as the RN you are taking care of the family of that child(ren). The families can be quite complicated in their psych/social area. The time that the RN is in this patient's/family's life is a very hard and stressful time. It may be the most stressful parts of a family's life. They are upset, stressed, sad, scared and they are looking for guidance, for someone to blame, and sometimes there is nothing anyone can do that may be right. The main challenge is gaining their trust, learning how to empower them, learning to work as a team, pointing out abilities rather than just having them concentrate on their child's disabilities, and teaching both patient and family new skills.

What advice would you have for a student interested in this field?

I recommend becoming comfortable working with children, but also becoming comfortable with talking to and teaching families as well. Things to work on: understanding the developmental stages and what developmental tasks are accomplished. How to approach, speak to, and connect with different age groups; develop listening and communication skills that are necessary when working with diverse populations and professionals. 

Extra info about Sarah Stepans:

I began my career as an RN at Seattle Children's Hospital on the Rehab and Complex Care Unit. I worked for almost 8 years with children who had Traumatic Brain Injuries, Spinal Cord Injuries, Trach/Vent patients and children with congenital anomalies. I worked with patients that were on the Hematology/Oncology service, Neurosurgery service, Medical/Surgical service - all in the acute care setting.

I am currently working as the school nurse at Linford Elementary in Laramie. This is my second year as a school nurse and I am finding it just as challenging, although in different ways, as working in the acute care setting.

Stepans staffed the Pediatric Nursing booth at the 3/26/15 Online Alumni Mentoring event. Click here for more information!

Sarah Stepans

Sarah Stepans
"I feel that working with families can be the most challenging part about working with the pediatric population...[and[ it is one of the most rewarding aspects of this career."

Stepans staffs pediatrics booth at online mentoring event


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