The nurses are here to help make you feel better all 180 days of the school year. Well, May 6th through the 12th is nurse’s week! We are celebrating all of the great things that they do for us! It’s an entire week dedicated to recognize the role of school nurses in the educational setting. nursesThis year’s theme is” Caring for Others. Caring for Ourselves.”
Imagine what school would be like without our beloved nurses. Imagine sitting in class with a headache and nowhere to go. Imagine having the chills and numerous coughing fits throughout the day and not being able to be cared for until you get home. How about the dreadful Mondays when you are feeling tired all day, but this time, there is nowhere to rest. Or, when you are feeling hypoglycemic and need something to eat to help you focus. We may usually take their care for granted and not realize the great things that they do for us when we have these issues.
The responsibilities of a school nurse are extremely critical to maintaining the health and wellness of all students. It’s not just about “boo-boos” and band-aids, nursing goes far beyond that. Have you ever thought about what the true responsibilities of a school nurse really are? Well, it looks like the school nurses of LBHS happen to know what they are.
Interview with Nurse Henck and Nurse Liz:
Q: As a school nurse you take on a variety of roles every day. What are some of those roles?
Henck: As clinicians, we provide nursing care and support for students and staff that are ill, injured, or have chronic health conditions. As educators, we provide health education to students and school staff to prevent disease and injury, promote healthy lifestyle choices and support school attendance. We are also mandated to perform mandated screenings and monitor immunizations, communicable diseases, and physical examinations and maintain a list of eligible athletes.
Liz: We can be the nurse, advocate, social worker, mental health caregiver, teacher, clinician, and nutritionist.
Q: What does the theme of National School Nurses Day, “Caring for Others. Caring for Ourselves’, mean to you?
Henck: Our mission is to create an environment at LBHS where our students are healthy, safe, and ready to learn. We also have a responsibility to ourselves to maintain a healthy lifestyle and foster positive and supportive relationships so we can serve as role models to our students and staff.
Liz: When you are in need of oxygen on an airplane in distress, you are instructed to apply oxygen to yourself first before others. We as registered nurses must be at our best to care for our school.
Q: Due to the prevalence of chronic social, emotional, and other health problems that continue to increase, how do you meet the needs of the large student population?
Henck: Our greatest concern and challenge is to meet the needs of the students who struggle with emotional health issuers and/or engage in risky behaviors such as sexual activity, self-injury, drug and alcohol. We support professionals at the high school work with students and families to assist them with this common growing concern.
Liz: Even with two nurses we are stretched to the limit due to the high volume of patients. We are constantly attempting to see who needs to be seen first, documenting and multitasking. It is very challenging.
Q4 Have you ever had student or faculty member have a life threatening situation? If so, did that change your perception on the responsibility that you have?
Henck: In our careers, there have been numerous potentially life-threatening or serious incidents with the students or staff. We are fully aware of the gravity of the responsibility placed upon us caring for over 1000 students and staff members.
Liz: Yes, several times, but each experience reinforces the need to continue to educate ourselves.
Q: In a hospital setting, you have the resources of other health care professionals. As school nurse, you have to make these medical decisions independently. How do you do so?
Henck: This is one of the unique aspects of the practice of school nursing, “flying solo” without the support of a medical team or technology. We rely on our strong background in hospital nursing, our assessment skills, and well-honed nursing judgment, and we continually educate ourselves with weren’t medical updates.
Liz: We call upon our training past experience and consult with other faculty when needed.
Q: Today, children face more complex and life threatening health problems requiring care in school. Do you feel that parents and faculty truly understand what a tremendous responsibility a school nurse has?
Henck: Honestly, we feel that the only people who truly understand the role of school nurses are the school nurses themselves and the indispensable support (secretaries) who work with them in the health office environment.
Liz: Some days it doesn’t feel that way. At Long Beach High School, we are very fortunate in that we have a great multi-disciplinary team.
As you can see, there is a lot more to being a nurse than you think. The goal of being a school nurse is to use knowledge, assessment skills, and judgment to provide high-quality healthcare for all students of the student body. Therefore, allowing those students to maintain good health and achieve in the classroom.
Believe it or not, these aren’t the only responsibilities school nurses have! Nurses are advocates for the academic community. They must inform, educate, and prevent illness and injury through educating the community about issues that may affect a student’s wellness. School nurses also must develop, implement, and monitor individualized Healthcare Plans for each and every student with chronic conditions such as Asthma, Diabetes, food allergies, etc. Then, they have to evaluate the outcomes. This is an even more arduous task because there has been a 50% increase in food allergies and Type 2 Diabetes since 1997-2011. School Nurses also work with other faculty so that they may have a team approach to optimize the students learning environment.
School nurses must document every single complaint that they receive when a student arrives at the nurse’s office, what aid they provided and what the medical or psycho-social outcome was. Was their goal met for that student? It also aids in of tracking patterns of illness. They also have to deal with students who are really having a difficult time socially, have substance abuse problems, family problems, or are just having a bad day. They must be very compassionate, understanding and non-judgmental. They “wear many hats”.
Now that you realize the true responsibilities of a school nurse, it is time to recognize and appreciate all of the wonderful things school nurses do to ensure your health at school. We are fortunate to have the school nurses we have, for they are truly caring, compassionate and committed. Make sure that you thank your nurses and wish them a Happy National School Nurses Week!