Good Day Fellow Nurses!
Today, I am dedicating this issue to all of the school nurses who are returning to school.
Once again, Covid has created a tense and unsettling environment for children, parents, teachers, and certainly for the school nurses.
I am very sorry that my fellow school nurses have to deal with Covid on top of their already busy back-to-school routine. I am sure that we had all hoped that Covid was behind us and this year would be different than the awful last year.
This sentiment is shared by a fellow school nurse writer and I am sharing it with you today along with a glimpse into school nursing that I wrote.
Here is my story:
Reflections on a Unique Type of School Nursing
Several years ago, as a certified school nurse at a large, diverse school district in Central Pennsylvania, I started to feel the tug that I might enjoy a job change. After 26 years in one district, the yearning to look beyond my familiar position led me to investigate other nursing jobs around the area.
What I found was a perfect blend of school and pediatric office, urgent care, and hospital nursing practically in my own backyard!
An Extraordinary School
Central Pennsylvania houses a gem of a one-of-a-kind private school for underprivileged youth. This school campus of 2200 students from pre-k through 12th grade hosts students who live there year-round from all over the US and several other countries. All schooling and services are free to the students who receive a top-notch education and an abundance of medical care, including on-site outpatient and inpatient services, dental, and vision.
A Unique Role for the School Nurse
Once I was hired by this private school as a school nurse, I was pleasantly surprised about the broad scope of nursing responsibilities and the freedom I was given as a practitioner in the clinics and inpatient hospital areas.
This institution employs a very large medical staff, including numerous physicians, dentists, and dental staff, RN’s, certified health aides, dieticians, psychiatrists, and ophthalmologists. They offer numerous specialty clinics such as dermatology, rheumatology, and cardiology.
As a lone school nurse for 26 years, I was thrilled and yet daunted to be working with so many other medical professionals!
The RNs work at the on-site private hospital that is available to the students, which houses psychiatric, med-surg and covid patients. The RN’s can also be employed in specialty clinics, the urgent care center, or one of the 3 school’s comprehensive health clinics. I was hired as a Float Nurse, so I was fortunate to work in all areas.
In this position, the physicians relied on the nurses to accurately assess the patients and develop a treatment plan to execute ourselves or in consultation with them, if we deemed necessary. The plan could include ordering x-rays, performing lab work or send-outs, and setting up consultations or surgeries as needed, along with education and treatment. These additional school nurse duties were new to me but exciting that I could stretch my wings as a nurse.
The nurses were in the unique position as case managers for the students as the school operates In Loco Parentis. Therefore, the nurses need to plan and execute many of the responsibilities that a parent would do when a child needs surgery, medication, follow-up care, etc. We arranged for and would oversee all aspects of their medical care from beginning to end.
School Health Clinics at Their Best
I loved working in the busy school health clinics. Having an on-site physician daily is highly unusual in a school and a dream for a school nurse. When it came to questions, quick medical consults, severe trauma, and emergencies, the physician resource was invaluable. This was especially true at the bustling high school where psychiatric issues and adolescent gynecologic and sensitive adolescent issues were abundant.
In addition, the nurses had a role as pediatric office nurses since the school clinics accomplished daily physical exams and follow-up appointments with the physicians, similar to any physician's office. The nurses performed all office nurse roles such as vital signs, health teaching, running labs, giving injections, taking off orders for physicians, and arranging for and providing follow-up as ordered by the doctors.
We also enacted our daily school nurse duties of care planning, screenings, administering medication, health education, taking care of sick and injured students, and chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Satisfaction as a School Nurse
The staff respected the nurses, and I must say it was nice to be a part of a large medical community within an educational setting. After years of being on my own medical Island at my previous school, this change was just what I needed to find self-satisfaction as a school nurse.
I know that we all make a huge difference in the lives of our patients daily, and I hope that each and every one of you gets the appreciation that you so desperately deserve. I am just very grateful that I had found a place as a nurse that fulfilled my needs and am thankful that my search led me to this school.
Me, as a school nurse during covid, admitting and assessing children for the start of the school year.
Here is the Blog that I was talking about from the school nurse blogger about the start of the school year.
To all of the nurses out there and especially nurse moms (and dads) and school nurses, I wish you a smooth back-to-school transition and year!!