We are always quick to thank our children’s teachers, assistants, and even administrators. However, school nurses should be included in this list! A school nurse does more than just pass out band-aids and pull teeth. The school nurse can be found wiping tears of a child who is hurt, counseling parents on what to listen for if a cough turns from bad to worse, dispensing medicine like a pro, and even dealing with emergencies that may arise during the school day.
To expand on what a school nurse does each day, I interviewed a school nurse to find out what her job entails…
What is your nursing background/degree?
I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. I knew from the beginning that pediatrics was going to my area of focus. Before becoming a school nurse, I worked in a pediatrician’s office, for a pediatric gastroenterology group, and at the Church Health Center.
Why did you choose to go into school nursing?
I chose to go into school nursing because I enjoy working with kids and have an interest in community nursing. Having young children myself, I was ready to find a more mom-friendly job as well!
How long have you been a school nurse?
I began my career as a school nurse in October 2006. I remember being terrified that first day. It is so different than in the medical field where you are surrounded by other nurses and doctors to work with you.
What are some of the common issues you face each day?
Scraped knees and elbows, usually from the playground, definitely top the list. I have a handful of students who receive medications daily. Headaches, stomachaches, and other injuries are also very common. Unique to the position at my school, I have some non-nursing responsibilities that keep me busy as well and provide me with the opportunity to interact with students, parents, and church members.
What are some things you wish parents understood about your job?
One of the primary roles of school nurses is to help teachers and parents monitor and resolve minor medical issues at school to keep kids in class. Remarkably, last month, I had 471 visits at the Nurse’s Station. 457 of those visits were returned to class! Additionally, I administered 153 doses of medication in March.
Conversely, if the school nurse calls you to say that your child is too sick to be at school it is not because we are trying to ruin your day! Typically this means one of two things: your child is too ill to participate with the class (lying down during recess perhaps,) or your child is so insistent that he doesn’t feel good that he are unable to be persuaded otherwise to the point of being disruptive to the class.
Please don’t send your child to school with an unidentified pill in a Ziploc bag to be given at lunch! School nurses are bound by standards of practice, state laws, and school policies. Some things we just can’t wing.
Nurses are servants at heart; we love the opportunity to help and to educate. Communicate with your child’s school nurse; she should be happy to help you!
What are some reasons/symptoms to keep your child at home?
- Fever within the past 24 hours
- Vomiting within the past 24 hours
- Severe cold symptoms, including copious nasal drainage or a persistent cough
- Bacterial infection treated by antibiotics for less than 24 hours
Today, when you drop off your child at school, send a thank you note to the school nurse. A small token of appreciation, whether it’s a card, flowers, or a Starbucks card, will go along way in lifting up the sweet person who cares for our students each day. School nurses go above and beyond, and they deserve to be celebrated!
Just another word to describe a person strong enough to tolerate everything,
and soft enough to understand everyone. ~ Unknown