Passionate dedication: a qualitative and descriptive study of nurses' and hospital play specialists' experiences on a children's burn ward
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A qualitative descriptive approach was undertaken to explore the experience of eight registered nurses and two hospital play specialists who care for children hospitalised with burn injuries. The research participants were recruited from a paediatric ward that offers centralised specialty care to children with burns. Collected through face-to-face interviews, the participants' stories were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim using a process for analysis informed by van Manen, (1997b).Emerging out of the data was the over-arching theme of 'passionate dedication' that shows the nurses and hospital play specialists genuine compassion and commitment to meet the needs of the children with burns. The findings of the study reveal that the participant's dedication is shaped and determined by a dynamic process that involves having professional integrity and in-depth knowledge of caring for children and burn management. The nurses and the hospital play specialists have a common understanding of what their role entails and the skills required to provide quality care and support to the children and the children's family. On a personal and professional level the participants encounter several challenges in this care context that are physically and emotionally overwhelming. Despite becoming overwhelmed the participants are revealed as being resourceful and resilient in their aptitude to find ways that enable them to cope and get through.This study supports international literature that suggests that caring for children with burns is equally rewarding, as much as it is physically and emotionally demanding. The implication in this study for the organisation is to seriously consider issues regarding productivity and efficiency of the workforce with acknowledgement that nurses and hospital play specialists cannot do this emotional work without effective systems of support in place. With the help of team leaders, managers and educators, the organisation will need to consider ways to monitor the job satisfaction of their staff. Furthermore, reinforce existing comprehensive measures, such as mentorship and clinical supervision programmes to encourage the retention and well-being of all staff, at all stages of their career on the children's burn ward.