Does it get better?

  1. Hello! I need reassurance from all of you seasoned school nurses out there. This is my 2nd year as a school nurse for a k-12 campus of about 1200 students and counting. I feel like this year has been especially taxing and there have already been a lot of "wth" moments and we haven't even made it to thanksgiving break. I feel like it should already been pretty steady and into a flow, but most days I feel like I walk into a tornado and hit the ground running. My questions are:
    Are some years better than others? Are there years that it is just a constant chaotic state and some are more calm? Do I just need to be patient and wait for the calm?
    How long did it I take you for you to know this area of nursing is where you are meant to be? For the most part, I do like it and I like being on the same campus as my kids. I think what I wasn't expecting was the isolation of school nursing. Everyone gets a lunch break. Everyone else on campus can take off when they or their kids are sick, but I don't have any subs and we have to use an agency which makes me nervous because of some of my chronic kids. So I just don't.
    What do you do to make your work life better? Do you play music in your office? Any little gems that just make your office or your day better? Just seeking some postivity and trying to better my outcome
    Thank you so much for the advice in advance!
    Admin: please do not post on Facebook or social media. Thanks!
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   BeckyESRN
    I do play music in my office everyday. Make sure you're getting lunch, outside of a MAJOR emergency, it can wait while you eat. Some years are just crap. Use the agency nurses! If you the day off, you need the day off. I know you'll worry (I do it too), but you are entitled to time off. I love to do bulletin boards, so I change up the ones in the main hallway when I'm bored or going stir crazy from being in my office. Some years are better than others, but there's always winter break!!!
  4. by   OldDude
    First and foremost...with 1200 students from Kinder to 12 grade on one campus you will "always" be busy and dealing with issues covering both ends of the rainbow. One thing you always know is...you never know, and your school day will be predictably unpredictable. I have 700 on my campus, PK-5, and never have two days that flow the same in regard to kids coming into the clinic. There is no rhyme or reason. So I think your challenge is to embrace this unpredictable environment and base your day on "shooting from the hip" in between your "scheduled" tasks. I don't play music or anything like that. This school nurse forum has been the most positive contribution to my work day for a few years now. I'd be sad if "big brother" cut me off from that. This July it won't seem so tough! Hang in there. Best job ever if you have kids.
  5. by   JenTheSchoolRN
    Quote from OldDude
    First and foremost...with 1200 students from Kinder to 12 grade on one campus you will "always" be busy and dealing with issues covering both ends of the rainbow. One thing you always know is...you never know, and your school day will be predictably unpredictable. I have 700 on my campus, PK-5, and never have two days that flow the same in regard to kids coming into the clinic. There is no rhyme or reason. So I think your challenge is to embrace this unpredictable environment and base your day on "shooting from the hip" in between your "scheduled" tasks. I don't play music or anything like that. This school nurse forum had been the most positive contribution to my work day for a few years now. I'd be sad if "big brother" cut me off from that. This July it won't seem so tough! Hang in there. Best job ever if you have kids.
    OldDude put it well. I only 500 kids (7th-12th) and I am busy and each day is unpredictable. I just learned I need to adjust to that ride.

    But, the adjustment was better after the first year. I got faster at assessments, got to know my students, got faster at documenting, learned how to do screening more effectively/efficiently. I also figured out how my school nursing "gut-instinct" worked and gained more confidence in myself and my role. These all helped a lot the second year!
  6. by   BeckyESRN
    Almost forgot! Please come here and share your WTH moments! We all have them and we love to hear about them
  7. by   Finally2008
    Quote from Jen-Elizabeth
    OldDude put it well. I only 500 kids (7th-12th) and I am busy and each day is unpredictable. I just learned I need to adjust to that ride.

    But, the adjustment was better after the first year. I got faster at assessments, got to know my students, got faster at documenting, learned how to do screening more effectively/efficiently. I also figured out how my school nursing "gut-instinct" worked and gained more confidence in myself and my role. These all helped a lot the second year!
    Absolutely! I feel like I was just trying to get a handle on working in the school setting my 1st year and then, in my 2nd year, I thought I should know everything by then and was easily frustrated and overwhelmed (more so than my 1st year, I think). Yes, just realize every day is unpredictable! I kind of like, now, that I never know what is coming through my door. As far as a lunch, yes, eat a lunch away from the clinic! Even if it is only 10 minutes, I tell my front office to remember the 3 B's---Bleeding, Barfing, or Bleeding. Otherwise, tell the students I will be back in 10-15 minutes. Also, I have told my teachers that I eat lunch at 11:30. I may not always get out right at that time, but they have become more aware that I actually do leave to go eat.

    Good luck! I am in my 5th year now and it is AWESOME!
  8. by   ruby_jane
    The first two years I was super-concerned about attendance, and keeping kids in school. That used up a lot of my time (mental space, too). I can't care more than the parents do. You are in an unusual situation because of the wide age range. And the meds....Oy, I can't imagine what your med cabinet looks like!

    There are super busy days on my campus of 2400 high schoolers, and there are times like right now where I'm actually eating lunch at lunch time. It is unpredictable. At the end of the day (assuming there's no student in the clinic) I tidy, I refill water for the next day, and do my daily flu reporting, as well as finish any errant charting. I have a clinic aide who keeps a lot of the crazy off me, and I am grateful every day.

    But I fully second closing the clinic when you can for lunch. Even if it's just a few minutes. I told all the teachers at the beginning of the year (and reminded them yesterday) that we don't have a lunch or conference, and at 1330 (after the three lunches) ALL the kids have had 3 periods to come in and unless it's an emergency, we close from 1330-1400. So far, so good on that.

    Good luck!
  9. by   Flare
    Are you the only nurse for 1200 kids? That's a lot of kids for one person to manage. and Ruby Jane - Tell me you're not the lone nurse for 2400!!

    The good news is that it does get better. It gets better as you get more used to the kids. It gets better as you get more used to the school and they get more used to you. I swear it takes time for them to get used to the nurse because the staff just doesn't interact with the nurse. They expect that all nurses are the same. They expect that everyone will do things exactly the same. If i had a dollar for every time a teacher told me "the old nurse used to..." i would have retired rich and happy long ago.

    I play music. whatever i like. Today happens to be 80s. The kids don't like it - good, then don't hang out. I also am sure to take my lunch. I am contracted for it so I darn well take it. Unless there is an emergency, i take it. I am also contracted for 2 prep periods a day, but don't really get those, i figure there are sporadic periods of "down time" sort of. I mean nothing i can count on, but there aren't any kids in here at the moment. So i don't push my luck. If the teachers didn't get their lunches there would be a riot. You are allowed a lunch. Take your lunch. you will find that your day goes smoother when you have given yourself a few minutes of a break to think.
  10. by   ruby_jane
    Quote from Flare
    Are you the only nurse for 1200 kids? That's a lot of kids for one person to manage. and Ruby Jane - Tell me you're not the lone nurse for 2400!!
    One nurse, one aide.

    At the high school my daughter attends in Arlington it's one nurse, one aide for 3,500. So in retrospect...winning....
  11. by   WineRN
    I'm still pretty new, but I feel like it's feast or famine in the school nurse world.
    There are days when I see 60 kids and others when I see 12. There are days when I go home absolutely exhausted and wonder if this really where I'm supposed to be and other days where I am filled with purpose and happy that I am here.

    One of the nurses I'm close to in my district told me that the first 3 months of each school year are just for putting out fires, and in my case she was 100% right. Between immunizations, crazy requests, all of the last minute enrollments and screenings, I've been living on fast forward. I still cannot believe it is October and Halloween is right around the corner.

    Overall, I am still much happier here than I have been in any other nursing position. Not needing to worry about holidays, having a set schedule that matches the rest of the world and getting the weekends with my husband, daughter and dog make even the toughest days here worth it.
  12. by   WineRN
    Quote from ruby_jane
    One nurse, one aide.

    At the high school my daughter attends in Arlington it's one nurse, one aide for 3,500. So in retrospect...winning....
    My niece's high school only has a Part Time nurse, that covers 3000. No aide.

    So many district admins just don't get how very important our role is and how it needs to be supported, not treated as a luxury that can be cut
  13. by   Flare
    Quote from ruby_jane
    One nurse, one aide.

    At the high school my daughter attends in Arlington it's one nurse, one aide for 3,500. So in retrospect...winning....
    Quote from WineRN
    My niece's high school only has a Part Time nurse, that covers 3000. No aide.

    So many district admins just don't get how very important our role is and how it needs to be supported, not treated as a luxury that can be cut
    Jeeze! That is a lot of kids to cover with one person or no one! I will think of you guys on the days when i feel like tearing my hair out over 800
  14. by   Txschoolrn
    Thanks Olddude! I've always enjoyed reading your feedback! It's very helpful !

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