Hospital Orientation

Fear...Bringing children to the hospital is a scary experience, and the sudden onset of illness or injury necessitating hospitalization can be a nightmare. This situation, as difficult as it can be, worsens when you enter a foreign world; a world that contains multisyllabic jargon, complex rituals and unfamiliar high tech equipment. A world where you feel like an outsider. The hospital is often such a place. And to make matters worse, Jeffrey is watching you, sensitive to your reactions, and importing them into the texture of his own. Consider these tips: 
  • Prepare him in advance if at all possible.

  • This hospital tour will help you to do so.
  • Remember that the nurses and physicians are there to help you. Don't hesitate to ask for that help.
  • Keep a journal of your experiences, reserving a section for questions and another for explanations. Ask for diagrams, if they will help you to understand what's going on inside Jeffrey's body.
  • Knowledge is power, and one of the best ways to reduce fear. Make sure that you have enough medical information to relieve yours. This Internet medical search has helped thousands of parents in similar situations.
  • Express your concerns to your nurse. Nurses are in an excellent position to help you access the resources that you need, and to help you "get things off your chest".
  • For many, support groups of parents dealing with similar issues are the most effective avenue of fear reduction. Caring Parents is such a group. To join this electronic listserv, send a message to
  • LISTSERV@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU, and leave the subject area blank. In the body on the message, type subscribe caringparents, then type your first name, leave a space, and type your last name. Send it off, and you will immediately get a response.
  • All hospitals have chaplains on call 24 hours a day. Even if you don't subscribe to an organized religion, you can receive a great deal of support from this resource, especially if the going gets rough. 

Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468

Last updated: November 14, 2004

Site map