Organizational Unit Congenital Heart Defects – Pediatric Cardiology

The departments for pediatric cardiology and pediatric cardiac surgery at the German Heart Center Berlin together form the largest and most important center for pediatric cardiac medicine worldwide.

Our services include all interventional and surgical procedures for the correction of congenital heart defects and the best possible treatment of acquired heart disease in children, as well as the largest pediatric program for mechanical circulatory support.

This makes for specialized and demanding nursing tasks on the intensive care unit and the intermediate nursing ward H4, which together form the “Organizational Unit for Congenital Heart Defects.”

Here you can see our job adverts for the pediatric wards.

Intensive Care Unit for Congenital Heart Defects – Pediatric Cardiology

So sieht Kinder-Intensivschwester Josefine ihren Job

The unit has 12 beds with artificial ventilators. The nursing team consists of nurses with general nursing qualifications and pediatric nurses.

Other members of the team are a hygiene officer, a medical equipment specialist and two practical instructors for organization and coordination and the induction of new colleagues. All personnel can profit from a broad range of in-house training sessions. In addition, the German Heart Center Berlin offers further specialist training in pediatric intensive care and there are always colleagues in training.

The unit has flexible visiting hours and offers psychological support and counselling for parents. The nursing team is also supported by a ward assistant.

Josephine, who has been a pediatric nurse with us for 8 years: For me the special thing about the intensive care unit here is that we are an unbelievably strong and good team and that you are allowed to do more than in other hospitals – a lot more. You shouldn’t be squeamish and medically you always need to be up to date and sometimes to read up on

Station H4 (Congenital Heart Defects - Pediatric Cardiology)

The ward H4 belongs to the organizational unit Congenital Heart Defects - Pediatric Cardiology and has 20 beds. More than 40 certified health and paediatric nurses as well as a ward assistant and an educator work on the ward.

Patients with congenital heart defects of all ages and different nationalities are treated here before and after operations or cardiac catheter interventions. In addition, we care for patients who come to the DHZB for outpatient examinations such as MRI, CT, cardioversions, TEE (transesophageal echocardiography) and post-operative aftercare.

Interview with Sevgi, Intensive Care Unit

Sevgi about her profession

Sevgi started at the DHZB in 1994 and has been working in the intensive care unit for congenital heart defects - pediatric cardiology ever since.

When did you decide on this profession?

I was about 13 when I saw a television report about a children's clinic. That impressed me, "Wow, I want to do something like that" I thought to myself. The wish remained, so I started the training. And that confirmed that this is exactly my thing. Even during my training I was able to work in several intensive care units. And I wanted to meet this challenge. That's how I ended up here. When I was 20.

How was your start back then?

The beginning was hard! Sure, I was a bit naive about it, I'd say today. "All children's nurses are angels, everything is great and all patients can be helped" - that's unfortunately not the reality.

We at the DHZB treat seriously ill children who could no longer be treated at many other clinics, very often newborns. This requires constant and utmost attention, and you must not allow yourself to make any mistakes. They are also often very long and difficult courses. There are the parents with their care and their hope. And also we at the DHZB cannot help every child. We have to deal with that. You don't learn that at school, you don't learn it so quickly in your everyday work life. Since I have been a mother myself, I can put myself in the position of my parents even better.

How much time do you have to spend with your parents?

That is different. Of course, the patients always have the highest priority. Immediately after a major heart operation, their care is very time-consuming, so you can often take very little care of the parents. But we always try to involve them as much as possible, explain everything to them and tell them that we understand them. We want to create trust, and to a certain extent this also helps us nurses to cope with everyday life here. We try to take this time, and if we have only 10 minutes break instead of half an hour. That is important to us.

Do you still feel sorry for the children after so many years? Or are they blunted?

Clearly no! That would mean that we humans after 10 years or after 20 years so much bluntly that we could see also in the everyday life misery, good or bad no more because one got used to it. One deals with it more professionally, but the compassion remains. Otherwise you should change your profession.

How resilient do you have to be?

(laughs) I can't help but talk about it: Very resilient. You need a private life in which you can recharge your batteries, a balance, that's very important. Of course, the more experienced you are, the more security there is. In the first years I was really still "afraid" of every patient who came out of the operation. That was also a good thing, a "healthy fear", I would say. But of course it fades away. Although routine is never allowed to creep in. We have to pay attention to that.

It all sounds pretty hard. What drives you?

Well, we have children here with very complex congenital heart defects who would not survive without heart surgery. And sometimes it takes weeks until they recover. But when we can move these patients away, often with the perspective of a completely normal life, when we can share the tremendous joy and relief with the parents - there is nothing better! That doesn't wear off any more than compassion. And you take that with you into your private life.

Team spirit is also very important. We help each other, we are there for each other in hard hours and we are happy together. That fits. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to stand it on one station for 21 years.

Pride?

Yes, of course! You can only be proud of such work! Proud of me and our damn good troupe!

Interview mit Sarah, Station H4

Sarah about her profession

Sarah has been working for seven years as a pediatric nurse on the ward H4 for Congenital Heart Defects - Pediatric Cardiology.

What makes the job so special for you?

Quite simply - the children. There are actually no more honest beings in the world. And if you can help them, it strengthens you and gives you a good feeling.

How well prepared were you after your training for what awaits you here?

Purely professionally, I'm sure, good. But how it really is to work with the children or to accompany the parents in difficult situations is something you learn only in everyday life. But you always have experienced colleagues at your side, as well as a psychologist you could talk to every day if you needed one. And so you grow into it very well.

Compassion, affection and professional distance: how do you find the right balance?

That's difficult in the beginning and I think it's certainly human that in one case or another you put more heart and soul into it. So there are always situations you take home with you, you don't dull off in the years - you only learn better ways to deal with them.

You can let the fate of your children, the care of your parents get to you. But as soon as you notice that things are getting too personal, you have to pull yourself out of the situation and pass it on to colleagues if possible. This is how we protect each other as a team. Our goal, however, is definitely always not to lose anyone here, but to see happy people go home. That is what you have in mind and not the suffering of the children.

How great is the degree of personal responsibility for you?

The DHZB is a high-performance centre, where you also get quite a long training period compared to other hospitals and where you become a specialist in your field. No matter in which occupational group. And you have to take on a correspondingly high level of responsibility, yes.

But that is easy to manage, because all professional groups work closely together in a team: Doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, educators, nutritionists. Nevertheless, respect for the work remains.
You have to stay focused, no matter whether the situation is a burden to you, no matter how big the background noise is or how much you have to do.

What makes you dissatisfied?

When I can't have cared for myself, as I learned and as I consider ethical, because it's not always feasible due to time constraints and lack of staff or simply because of emergencies. Because you already have your own expectations and you want to see children, parents and yourself happy at the end of the day.
There are children who live on this ward for over a year. An enormous burden for the parents. At the same time, they are often under stress.

Are there no tensions?

Definitely, no matter how professional you are, we are all just people. There can be a clearer word to the parents or the other way around. But then you go in retrospect and say, we all want the same thing, that's our goal, that your child goes out here happy and content with them. Then you are immediately on the same level again.

Are there moments of doubt?

Yes. There are days when you push yourself to your limits, both emotionally and sometimes medically. And of course you ask yourself, is this centre right for me, should I rather look for something calmer, a few cold symptoms or something like that (laughs). But so much encouragement, when the children go home healthy after a long time of bad progress, that's only possible here.

Dream job?

If you really love children very much, if you love communication, it's a dream job. I would say - yes!