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Purpose: The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child drew international attention to the right of a child to be heard. Researchers have enhanced the child’s voice in many settings, albeit few in the hospital. Nurse researchers investigating the hospital experiences of children have identified positive and negative patterns of communication. Potential characteristics of an approachable nurse were hinted at, although none explored the concept of approachability.

Design and methods: A qualitative, descriptive research design, including semi-structured interviews with seven school age children (ages 8-12, four girls and three boys) in a pediatric oncology service, was used to gain children’s perceptions and descriptions of approachable nurses. Drawings were used to supplement and glean a greater understanding of descriptive characteristics. All but one child had endured multiple hospitalizations related to their diagnosis of cancer. Interviews were recorded and data were content analyzed using immersion/crystallization and editing organizational styles.

Results: The children had experiences with more than one approachable nurse and described approachable nurses as smiling and happy, playful, creative, competent and willing to talk and listen to them.

Conclusion and practice implications: The school age children in this study were able to describe their perceptions of an approachable nurse. The voices of these children illuminate the importance of nurses’ words and behaviors and provide exemplars of approachable nurses. It can be argued that the responsibility remains with nurses to create an environment where in hospitalized children feel their voices are heard, they are understood and respected with unprecedented dignity.