i get asked that question alot-as a matter of fact when i left my previous job to become a school nurse alot of my co workers gave me a hard time saying I was going to be sitting around giving bandaides all day-HOW FAR FROM THE TRUTH!!!! I stay busy all day so do all the other school nurses i know. Anyway I am attaching a copy of an article I put in our local newspaper for the monthly school health cloumn. i thought it summarized a school nurses job description pretty well-if thats possible Haha - If youre thinking about doing that I can honsestly say its the most rewarding and at times frustrating thing Ive ever done- Its not for everybody
What is one of the first questions that people ask you when meeting for the first time? "What do you do for a living?" Whenever I get that question I always prepare myself for people's reaction -initially its "OH so you're a nurse so what hospital do you work at?" I laugh to myself as I explain that I work at an elementary school. The conversation usually precedes something like " A school nurse! So what do you do all day ?" Or " I bet you see a lot of kids just wanting to get out of class" I chuckle as I think about my "frequent flyers"-those kids you see daily for on thing or another and then I try to explain exactly what my job is. Sometimes it is hard not because there is nothing to do but because there is so much that it is hard to say in 10 words or less. Luckily I came across this article written by a school nurse, Gerri Harvey, of over 20 years and I think it summarizes my job description perfectly. So in case you ever wondered what are those nurses doing -here is your answer.
But Is It Really Nursing?
Recently on the School-RN listserv, while discussing Frequent Flyers, someone bemoaned the fact that these are the kids who often are not really sick. They take up nursing time that kids who are "really" sick might need. The veterans among us said that the FF's may not always be sick, but clearly, if they are coming to the nurse, they need SOMETHING. That "something" might be attention, release from a stressful situation, sleep, food, the bathroom, a sympathetic ear, or even someone who will look them right in the eye, face to face, and ask them non-judgmentally, "How can I help you?"
As we bantered about the reasons teachers send kids to the nurse and the reasons kids ask to come, one weary school nurse said, "Yes, but is it nursing?" I want to respond to that question.
If nursing is ONLY about caring for the sick and the injured, then it's easy to sort out the nursing from the not nursing. I have heard school nurses say that if they do not see blood, vomit or a temp over 101, then the child does not need a nurse and is sent back to class. This is actually medical model thinking. Health is the absence of sickness. Period.
In today's complex world, one in which we understand how sadness, hopelessness and loneliness can predispose a person to suppressed immune function, heart disease and even cancer, nursing is so much more than the old medical model.
Nursing is about caring.
Nursing is about having the skills to assess for the unspoken as well as the spoken need.
Nursing is about prevention.
Nursing is about comfort.
Nursing is about teaching our patients how to achieve and maintain physical and emotional comfort themselves.
Nursing is about empowering patients toward self-care.
Nursing is about giving others the understanding and awareness to deal with whatever hurts instead of substituting a "legitimate" illness to get what they need.
And school nursing is about doing all of these things for persons still in progress, children, who are still learning how to be and stay well.
It is good to have those acute care skills, and be a nurse who knows how to do CPR if a person's heart stops beating, there's no doubt that THAT is really nursing. But it's also good to be a nurse who knows all the ways to protect that heart before it becomes sick.
So yes, the answer is yes. Getting gum out of hair, sewing up ripped pants, inviting a child to eat lunch with you, opening the door for when they might want to disclose some pain you cannot even imagine, being the one to help figure out where the real pain might be coming from. These are all part of nursing in a school.
It is harder to see those internal wounds, harder to measure how your attention might have prevented the development of something big and scary and physical, but yes, it is really nursing.