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Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

I have learned a lot, laughed with many, and shed a few tears. I am constantly learning new skills and teaching new staff, residents, and nursing students. The team here is the finest I have ever worked with."

Dean Jarvis, RN, CCRN, 12 years at DHMC PICU

Overview

Our renowned Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) was designed by nurses and parents. PICU’s diverse patient population ranges from trauma, renal, cardiac (excluding cardiac surgery or transplants), general medicine/surgery and oncology to endocrinology, neurology, pulmonary and orthopedic patients. In our active Neurometabolic Program, we see children with rare cellular genetic and mitochondria defects. Our work takes us to the forefront of pediatric disease diagnosis.

Environment

Our unit functions well as a clinical and caring environment with distinct spaces for nurses, patient care and overnight family rooms. The PICU has six large, well-appointed, private patient rooms. Each room has expansive views of our natural woodlands—a soothing and peaceful setting for parents, children and staff—which provides the best possible healing environment. Quality, family-centered patient care remains at the core of our mission. Parents are not considered visitors; they are part of the caring team.

Unit culture

We are a small, cohesive team, yet we enjoy the resources and benefits of being a part of a large institution. Social workers, physicians, respiratory therapists, care managers, and our pediatric PhD pharmacist—all work with us to provide exceptional care to patients and their families.

Experience levels range from new graduates to senior nurses with over 13 years PICU experience at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. We recognize the necessity for appropriate staffing levels to ensure our staff's ability to meet our patient’s needs. Our shared governance staff scheduling model provides shift flexibility and responsibility. Nurses enjoy collegial relationships with the multidisciplinary team and participate in decisions that affect patient care, giving nurses a strong voice within the unit. We have several social clubs within the department and an engaging variety of extra curricular activities and events.

Educational opportunities

The PICU orientation is extensive and based on individual skill level. Ranging from 4 weeks to 6 months, nurses work with a Clinical Nurse Specialist and Preceptor. We provide ACLS and PALS as part of standard orientation. New team members also participate in additional training with adult ICU. PICU is a wonderful environment in which to learn and develop. Our department values advanced qualifications and provides a supportive environment for nurses wishing to become certified in their specialty. Clinics, conferences and research programs, as well as on-the-job learning and information sharing, are some of the educational opportunities available to PICU nurses. We also support educational opportunities beyond the medical center.

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