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Help Please!

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Hello Everyone,

I need some advice from fellow nurses. I have been a nurse for 4 years. I was on a med surg/onc floor for 3.5 years. I just recently transferred within my hospital organization to a med surg tele floor at one of our sister hospitals closer to home. I cut my commute from 45+ minutes to now 10 minutes from home. Since I became a nurse I always wanted to focus on oncology or school nursing. Those are my passions. After almost four years of bedside nursing I'm ready for a change. I don't enjoy my job and don't feel a passion for bedside nursing. I feel anxiety about work, and dread going.

Im at point where I'm going back and fourth on what I should do. School nursing or outpatient oncology/infusion. Both have pros and cons. The school nursing con is I would take a huge pay cut, and would be back to commuting. $30,000 less a year. Yikes. But the perks are more time with my kids, being able to get to my sons games, summers off, holidays and weekends off, working with kids and making a difference. Infusion perks: passionate about oncology, no weekends, no nights or holidays, $6 more an hour than what I currently make. Both of these positions are monday thru friday and both have about 40-60 commute.

I'd love to hear input from school nurses.

1)What do you like/dislike about school nursing?

2) Tell me what is a typical day like?

3) What is something you wish you would have known before becoming a school nurse?

4) Last but not least...what would you do if you were me?

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

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I have never worked Oncology or as a school nurse, but I would choose the job that gives me more time with my children. They will be gone before you know it.

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My daughters qualified for free school lunch courtesy of my school nurse salary. Now grown with children of their own they have both thanked me for "working to be with them".

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1) I dislike the pay, but pay varies by region. I don't feel like my professional degree is valued as much as the teachers. But the flipside of my pay is that my insurance premium only costs me almost nothing. I dislike worrying about some of "my kids" over long breaks and summers. I love my school, coworkers, and boss. I love that my daughter is in my building, for at least a little while longer. I love when kids bring me pictures they made. I love being another adult that they know they can count on. I dislike irresponsible parents.

2) I'm in a K-3 building. My day is not usually very busy (knock on wood). A typical day is med passes, tummy aches, headaches, imaginary boo-boos, occasional actual illnesses & playground injuries, rare big whopper injuries (broken bones), rare staff/visitor emergencies. I don't get to do teaching in classroom as much as I like but I do a little bit. We have vision screenings (my SLP does hearing), mobile dentist visits. I help out in the front office.

3) ??? Hmmm...gotta think about this one

4) I would take the job that gives you more time with your kids in a heartbeat. I don't know how old yours are, but my oldest is a freshman. It's just hit us that we only have a few more years with him before he's gone. :(

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a 30 k pay cut is a hard pill to swallow, but if you can swing it, it's so so worth it to be with your kid. A lot of us make up some of the pay difference by picking up some summer work. Summer camps are often looking for nurses and they will usually let your kids attend for free and still pay you.

I haven't worked oncology either, but you mentioned being passionate about it. The m-f schedule AND boost in pay is pretty tasty too.

How old are your kids? Is the salary for school nurses on a guide where it may become competitive after a few years? Are school nurses in the district in the union and on the teacher's salary guide?

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I was a nurse manager when I took a leap of faith andwent into school nursing and have no regrets. I took a $25,000 pay cut, and it was worth it in reduced stress. I was able to spend more time with my kids, and I was able to pick up side work to supplement my income. I work in a busy high school with 2,100 students plus the faculty and staff. My days are ususally very busy, between seeing students, paperwork, and talking to teachers about their students. People are so surprised to find out that school nurses do more than give out band-aids, ice packs and deal with stomach aches. We wear so many hats, nurse, counselor, surrogate Mom, friend, confidant, advocate, and then some, dealing with more and more chronic illnesses in the school setting, it's not for the faint of heart. We are the only health care professionals in the school, and I would have to say that the only down fall is having to deal with our administrators, who are not medical at all. I love my school, my students, and my job. I can't imagine being anything but a school nurse..

Having to explain why we do what we do, make the decisions we make, can be the biggest problem. Having to explain why I can't accept medication orders, with the meds, that aren't signed by a physician, but the MD had their name printed on the order, (sigh), and why that isn't good enough... why I have to call 911 for a student that is hallucinating, and has constricted pupils, and a heartrate I am unable to count, (can't we just let them rest here?) ummm, NO!!!.... Why I can't administer a medication I don't have an order for because the parent is at work 30 minutes away as a "favor" to him??? (My license, that's why)... I have learned to just do what I have to do to deal with them and move on... I am here for the kids.. not them.

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Medical Assistant here but I been working at my school by myself for the past 3 years

1)What do you like/dislike about school nursing? I love the kids, they are great and amazing! I don't like the parents, because they always have something to complain about that we can't really control.

2) Tell me what is a typical day like? Right now since I'm done with most of my screenings, just cleaning my office and having maybe 12 kids a day, not including my 6 medications in a day. I clean, some random kid comes in about something, I do what I can to assess and I call parents. Give out medications as well.

3) What is something you wish you would have known before becoming a school nurse? What I should be looking for in assessing and how much of burn out it can be if you don't have certain things done before the holiday break. My first year I was exhausted!

4) Last but not least...what would you do if you were me? Go for the job! Try it out! If you don't like it, you could go back to your old profession. I really do enjoy it and the children can be amazing if you teach them who you are and what they can and can't do with you.

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Welcome to the school nurse side, where we have virtual co-workers because we sit alone most days in a building where we're the only medical professional!

While I sure can't tell you what to do...

Your experience will make you invaluable here. If you're at a point where you can't/don't want bedside anymore...jump. Because not jumping means you'll risk burning out/being bitter.

You can always go back. I left a clinic management job in public health because we had the worst TB epidemic (not using that word lightly) in state history and at the beginning of summer I knew no more help was coming and I could not do more with less. When RJ junior graduates and is flown I'll likely go somewhere else.

But for now - the paycut was not substantial because I am making a little more per hour - but my hours are spread out over 12 months and I only work 10 months. You can pick up some PRN if you want the extra money. Personally, my lifestyle can be adjusted to accommodate the loss of income for a little while.

Good luck!

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I think there is always two facets to a decision to becoming a school nurse and having children. I've said this before but your kids are only on loan from God and the time you have with them is precious and fleeting. You'll never look back at the end of your life and say, "Damn, I wish I would have worked more nights, weekends, and holidays." All of my 5 kids have coursed through the halls and classrooms of my campus and those memories are forever etched in my brain. It's where I go in my mind's eye when I'm seeking comfort, serenity, or a general mental boost. If you can pay the bills and put food on the table the salary isn't relevant.

Secondly, you must be of the personality of confidence in your critical thinking skills and independence to be completely autonomous as a school nurse. There is no MD, Charge Nurse, House Supervisor, others nurses, or assistants, or even registration clerks to call on when the "fit is hitting the shan" and you are "IT," as well as maintaining that role day in and day out regarding every decision to be made. All long term school nurses are from this mold and prefer to be independent in their clinics. I refer to the three of us in my clinic; me, myself, and I.

So, best of luck to you, and please keep us informed.

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1)What do you like/dislike about school nursing?

The independence. I like running my own show most of the time. I enjoy the students I work with, I am in the demographic I prefer. I like seeing kids be healthy and teaching preventative lifetime information instead of just teaching discharge instruction. I LOVE the schedule. I do not have kids, but I got into this young with the anticipation that all the school nurses I know who got into it with their elementary aged children are onto something...

2) Tell me what is a typical day like?

I have a 1200+ kiddo caseload. It's a nuthouse, but it's my nuthouse. Some days I literally feel like I am drowning and other days I can pop on for a few minutes and answer an AN 'school nurse breakroom' question.

3) What is something you wish you would have known before becoming a school nurse?

How lonely it can be some days. Even when drowning in 70+ visits a day, sometimes I just want to talk to an adult about grocery shopping.

Oh, and that parents will ream you a new one in a fit of emotion but that it's fine and not personal. Took a few times to learn to process that stuff better.

4) Last but not least...what would you do if you were me?

You do you, girlfriend. My gut knew school nursing was for me despite the massive paycut up front compared to other offers. (I did end up in a district with an amazing salary advancement though)

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Yes! My son is a sophomore and daughter is an 8th grader. They'll be in college before I know it. I'm realizing how fast its all going and I know I cant get this time back.

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