Why Aren't School Nurses Given Due Respect?

  1. I am a school nurse in Texas and I work at a large urban school district.

    Nursing is a noble profession and nurses, in general, are widely respected. Except for school nurses. Many people have asked me, "So, you're an RN? That's great! What field do you work in?" When I tell them I am a school nurse they reply, "Oh," and look at me as though I've just run over their dog. A woman I knew once said to me, "School nurses are just "washed up" nurses who can't make it anywhere else." My own husband and children believe that all I do in the course of a school day is dispense band aids and ice packs, which couldn't be further from the truth!

    I dispense caring and compassion as I care for a sick child whose parents can't (or don't want to) be reached to pick their child up. I dispense competence and confidence when I rely solely on my nursing judgment and critical thinking skills in an emergent situation - because there is no physician there to give me orders. I dispense conscience and comportment as I hold my tongue while I am being cursed at and threatened by an angry parent (which, by the way, happens frequently). Sister Roach's "Six C's of Nursing" were drilled into me in nursing school, and I have come to embrace them. Each morning on my way to work I ask God to help me embody the Six C's of Nursing.

    I didn't become a school nurse for money or glory. I became a school nurse knowing I would gain neither. I simply answered a calling.

    It would be wonderful if we were recognized and respected for everything we do - the special procedures that enable medically fragile and chronically ill children to attend school, acting as each child's health advocate, maintaining complicated health records, and that's just the tip of the iceberg! In reality, though, we are loved and respected by the only people who really matter; the children we take care of.
  2. Visit rkozowyk profile page

    About rkozowyk

    Joined: Dec '12; Posts: 1; Likes: 6


  3. by   misty_dawn
    Well said. I took a huge pay cut coming into school nursing and I couldn't be happier that I did. I am so thankful that all of the staff at my school respect me and what I do (as far as I know anyways). School nursing is no walk in the park some days, but it sure beats a day in the hospital any day. I really do not care what people think about the career path I have chosen. Each area of nursing has its pros and cons and someone has to do it. I am just thankful that I chose this field of nursing.
  4. by   Soliloquy
    I often wonder why there aren't more school nurses.
  5. by   TheCommuter
    There are many uninformed people who think that real nursing only takes place inside acute care hospitals.

    Many nurses who work in non-acute specialties receive the cold shoulder. Nurses who work in LTC, schools, private duty, clinics, and other settings outside the hospital are often viewed as the ones who couldn't hack it in the hospital.

    By the way, I've never worked in a major hospital. I've spent my short career in LTC, psych, and acute rehab. I'm about to switch to developmental disabilities nursing next week. I am a very much a nurse (the state of Texas says so).
  6. by   Nurse ABC
    I used to hate telling people I was a school nurse for this very reason. People (and teachers) don't realize that there is so much responsibility being the only medical person in the building! The general public don't always realize the medically fragile children we have to take care of as well! We do pass out lots of band aids and ice but we also have to make sure the kids don't have some internal injury or brain trauma as well! I think we get dumped on so much from cleaning up poo to finding belts and shoestrings people forget how important our job is until they really need us! Now when people make comments like that I educate them and most say they never realized how much we're in charge of.
  7. by   squidbilly
    I have definately experienced both ends of the spectrum when it comes to how people view my position as a school nurse. I am 24, and I have had many people express admiration for how much I have accomplished at my age. I can also sense that for some my age is an issue, and that perhaps they struggle to take me seriously because I look even younger than 24. Many of my friends do not have college educations and they have emense respect for what I do. On the contrary, my mother (an RN) seems to think I am overqualified for my job and is constantly sending me links to job postings for hospital positions. She doesn't understand that my happiness in the workplace and surpluss of free time is worth far more to me than the increased pay I would receive in a hospital.

    In the end, all that matters to me is that I am happy, healthy, have a roof over my head, and food in my belly. The career path I have chosen is a means to that end, and the fact that others cannot understand or respect that does not change how I feel at all.
  8. by   SchoolRNAmy
    "In the end, all that matters to me is that I am happy, healthy, have a roof over my head, and food in my belly. The career path I have chosen is a means to that end, and the fact that others cannot understand or respect that does not change how I feel at all."

    I couldn't have said it any better!

    I was a 32 year old, new grad RN, when I took my school nurse position last year. I toyed with the notion of going to work in a hospital, like all of my fellow nursing grad friends.... but I'm the one who has more balance in my life.... time for family, friends, MYSELF. I couldn't care less about the pay... I make enough to support myself and help my hubby (who's working full time and going through nursing school pre-reqs currently). Life is good.... I enjoy working in a small private school (96 students total) the kids are great, the school staff is nothing but respectful and supportive of a team environment... I like the challenge of learning new things - even the paperwork part of it (different kind of paperwork than hospitals)....I enjoy leaving at a decent time every day.... and I know that if I need to, I could get a second shift job. Having weekends and holidays off is practically unheard of for my friends working in hospitals.
    I still get to use my nursing judgement, and make decisions based on it... and I get to educate the kids, which I really have a good time with.
    There are days that I'm bored, but I am far more content here, and I'm not sure I can picture myself anywhere else right now.
    Last edit by SchoolRNAmy on Dec 11, '12 : Reason: mental_block
  9. by   mtgirl81
    Oh sister I hear ya! I get the same thing from my nursing friends, and friends in general! I just posted a blog about it last week to spread the word that what we do is more than bandage knees and moniter thermometers (take a peek and pass it on No Maybe Baby) With the amount of critical kids in schools, it always amazes me that people think we're just a warm body in a school building.
  10. by   bell1962
    my mother-in-law frequently asks why i don't become a "real nurse" ?
  11. by   SchoolRNAmy
    Quote from bell1962
    my mother-in-law frequently asks why i don't become a "real nurse" ?
    I get that one too....... gives you the "warm and fuzzies", don't it?
  12. by   kingsmiley
    " To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others". Albert Camus
  13. by   NutmeggeRN
    I think we earn that respect in our communities...I live in a small town and am fortunate to be in a place where the school board and towns people really appreciate the role we play. We have had more than our fair share of sick, and I mean REALLY sick kids and we do become the person that people turn to in crisis.

    I love my job and people know it!
    Last edit by NutmeggeRN on Jan 2, '13 : Reason: wrong word
  14. by   strytellerchayka
    i get it all the time why didn't you want to be a real nurse? i cant lie i knew all through nursing school i wanted to do school nursing but never thought it would be my first nursing job... i looked for a job for over a year in a hosptal and acute care but nothing and then came this job which i love and wouldnt trade for the world.. i do wish i would have gotten some more clinical experience but i have a good support system at school...