Preparation of children and families facing cardiac surgery is an essential nursing function. As pediatric nurses, we must be concerned about facilitating the child's emotional adjustment to hospitalization as well as assisting his/her parents to successfully cope with the many stressors placed on the child. In order to be effective in alleviating the child's anxieties and relieving parental fears, the nurse must be equipped with a thorough knowledge of cardiac anatomy and physiology; the usual preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative routines; and normal growth and development of children. Components of the preparation process include (a) preparation by the nurse, (b) assessment of the child to family, and (c) formation of an individualized teaching plan. Methods for achieving these goals will be discussed.
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