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The Role of the Family in Pediatric Healthcare

Family-centered care recognizes that family members contribute to children’s health in unique and special ways.

Parents and families make choices at home every day that affect children’s overall health. Some are as common as encouraging exercise and serving nutritious meals. However, families also play a vital role in the health of their children when medical attention is needed. From properly sharing a child’s medical history to reassuring the child during dreaded procedures, involved families boost pediatric healthcare outcomes. And, when pediatric nurses and doctors give the family choices and include them in the decision-making process, they create a better environment for the child’s healing and recovery.


Here are three primary roles that families play in children’s healthcare.

  1. Advocates
    When a child is sick or injured, the family’s primary concern is getting the best possible treatment. In seeking medical attention, family members ask questions of pediatric nurse practitioners and other staff and may seek several professional opinions to better understand their child’s condition and what steps must be taken. In this way, families are front and center in advocating for quality care. They also help identify deficiencies in health services, and their feedback in quality measurement surveys can lead to positive changes.1

  2. Collaborators
    Parents and family members know their child’s medical history better than anyone, so they are important sources of information. Instead of only consulting responses on a medical history chart, pediatric healthcare professionals encourage communication during all phases of pediatric care. The family shares other relevant details—such as sleep patterns, diet, and what comforts the child—that inform treatment. As key decision-makers in the child’s life, family members should be partners in developing the child’s care plan.2

    Likewise, the medical staff openly communicates with family members about procedures and answers questions as they arise.

  3. Comforters
    No matter how gentle and child-focused pediatric nurse practitioners are, nothing brings more comfort when a child is hurting or stressed than having family nearby. In family-centered care, the family is allowed to be with the child as much as possible. They may incorporate personally meaningful activities and familiar routines into the treatment plan.

    Allowing family to be present during medical procedures lowers both the child’s and the family’s anxiety levels and restores feelings of security and stability. It also helps family members understand the medical procedures more fully and reduces their uncertainty. When the family is more relaxed and confident, the child will be, too.3

Pediatric Nursing Education

If you’re interested in pediatrics and ensuring that children and adolescents receive the best possible care, consider pursuing an MSN Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care at Walden University. This MSN specialization provides advanced training and skills in pediatric nursing, including well-child care, growth and development, and integration of the family. It also gives you the leadership training you need to manage your own practice.

Walden University offers a variety of online MSN degree specializations. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,

Note on certification: The MSN nurse practitioner specializations are designed to prepare graduates to qualify to sit for national nurse practitioner certification exams, which are required for practice as a nurse practitioner in most states. Because no graduate program can guarantee that graduates will be permitted to practice as a nurse practitioner upon graduation, we encourage students to consult the appropriate board of nursing or state agency to determine specific certification exam requirements. Walden Enrollment Specialists can provide information relating to national certification exams; however, it remains the individual’s responsibility to understand, evaluate, and comply with all requirements relating to national certification exams for the state in which he or she intends to practice as requirements vary widely. Learn more about professional licensure. Walden makes no representations or guarantee that completion of Walden coursework or programs will permit an individual to obtain national certification. For more information about nurse practitioner certification exams, students should visit the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners at, American Nurses Credentialing Center at, or other nurse practitioner certification exam websites.