By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
For pediatric nurse Jennifer Dedman, her mom, the late Karen Peters of Batavia, offered the perfect example of what a nurse should be, inspiring Dedman to also become a nurse.
“I have always wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “I looked up to her. She was an amazing mom, nurse and role model.”
Dedman said that her mother taught at the local community college and at times Dedman could tag along.
“I saw her go from working on the floor to supervisor to vice president of nursing at a local hospital,” she said. “I’ve looked up to her for sure.”
Dedman moved to Rochester to attend Monroe Community College and start working at Rochester General Hospital on a medical-surgical floor while a student. She shadowed a nurse and learned about various areas of nursing.
“The good thing about nursing is there are so many opportunities,” Dedman said.
She found cardiology interesting and gravitated toward that specialty.
She stayed on at Rochester General for a time, but found that the shift changes required by hospital nursing wouldn’t fit with her dreams of starting a family with her new husband, Jason.
“That’s when I thought, ‘I love kids’ and wanted to be in pediatrics,” Dedman said. “That’s when I found Elmwood Pediatric Group.”
Like most doctor’s offices, the Rochester-based practice is open office hours, so Dedman could achieve the work-life balance she wanted. She’s been pleased to work there a decade.
“For me, I find kids to be fun,” she said. “Some kids I’ve seen as newborns and it’s fun seeing them grow through the years. You build a rapport with them and with their parents. The nurses work as a link between patients and parents and doctors. I learn about their medical history and we talk with triage nurses as well.”
She also enjoys the advances in the medical field that bring new information she can share with patients.
Nursing also brings plenty of challenges.
“Like with any job, you have to work well with others and respect who you’re working for,” Dedman said.
Pediatrics in particular has its own difficulties at times because it involves treating kids who are sick.
“You have to build up that immunity,” Dedman said. “We’re exposed to so many viruses, especially with flu exposure. When we have kids who have symptoms, we may grab a mask or protective equipment, especially with a throat culture.”
One of the big changes she has observed since she started nursing is the parental refusal of routine vaccines, such as the combined mumps, measles and rubella vaccine. She said that misleading stories in social media and the news media have played a factor in parents rejecting vaccinations, including refuted theories about correlation between MMR and autism.
“Now we’re seeing a measles outbreak, which I’ve never seen before,” she said. “We have a vaccine and it’s important to immunize and keep these diseases at bay.”
She added that since measles and other nearly eradicated diseases are now on the rise, her generation of nurses must learn how to recognize them.
Nurses are now performing more screenings to help doctors have more time with patients and focus on patient care.
“We hand out assessment tools such as for ADHD, depression and more so we can cover everything we need to,” Dedman said. “We work well as a team to try to make their visit as productive as possible. We do a lot of triage behind the scenes to get questions answered and get the patient on the right path.”
She advises anyone interested in nursing to complete whatever prerequisites they can before entering the nursing program so they can focus on their studies better.
“Once you get into nursing school, do as many shadowing opportunities as you can so you can decide where your niche may be,” Dedman said. “You have so many choices sometimes, it takes a bit to find it.”
She and her husband and two children enjoy traveling and staying active.
In 1993, the American Nurses Association declared May 6-12 as the national week to celebrate and elevate the nursing profession.
National Nurses Week is a time for everyone — individuals, employers, other health care professionals, community leaders and nurses — to recognize the vast contributions and positive impact of America’s 4 million registered nurses. Each year, the celebration ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.