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Career Story: Nurse In A Public Elementary School

Nurse In A Public Elementary School

Job Title: School Nurse

Type of Company: I work for a school district on Cape Cod.

Education: BA, Education/Sociology, City University of New York •• AA, RN, Berkshire Community College

Previous Experience: I started out as a teacher, studied nursing and went on to become a school nurse.

Job Tasks: Before kids are admitted to elementary school, I review and assess their health histories, making sure they've been properly immunized as required by the Department of Public Health. I provide mandated annual screenings for them, checking their height, weight, vision and hearing. And I serve as a liaison between health care providers, teachers, school cafeteria personnel and parents, keeping them up-to-date on the screenings and making sure aware of the kids with special needs.

During the school day I provide injury assessment, treatment and referral as needed. Intervention for sick children includes assessment and treatment as outlined by the school district pediatrician and as ordered, in some cases, by the student's own doctor. Since some students have diabetes, seizure disorders, attention deficit disorder, asthma, bee sting or other life threatening allergies, I maintain specific contingency plans for predictable emergencies. I provide training to the teachers about special needs for individual students.

On a typical day, I see between 40 and 80 students for a variety of complaints and first aid.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is knowing that I can provide support and attention to children both emotionally through reassurance and physically as they need treatment for scrapes, playground injuries, asthma attacks, anxiety attacks, seizures and whatever else ails them.

The worst part of my job is having to document all exchanges with teachers, students, parents, doctors and other school personnel as visits and treatment occur.

Job Tips:
1. If you love both teaching and healthcare, school nursing is a good match. Be prepared to function on your own without the benefit of on-site colleagues. I recommend that you first get your clinical experience in an acute care setting or a hospital.

2. Ongoing training is required for maintaining your skills and your license, so keep in mind that the day doesn't always end with the school day.

3. The school nurse is required to be available on-site for the entire school day. Having any time for lunch or a break is rare. Knowing that will keep you from being surprised.

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