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Career Story: Public Elementary School Nurse

Public Elementary School Nurse

Job Title: School Nurse

Type of Company: I am the school nurse in an elementary school.

Education: diploma, Registered Nursing, Assumption College, St Vincent School of Nursing (Worcester, MA) •• National Certified School Nurse, Massachusetts Department of Education Certification in School Nursing

Previous Experience: I worked as a staff nurse in neurology for two years and as a staff nurse in a skilled nursing extended care facility for 16.

Job Tasks: My chief responsibility is the health of both the staff and the students. A school nurse actually comes under the heading of a public health worker. I have to make sure that the children have all the immunizations that are required by the state. The Department of Public Health works very closely with the school nurses to insure that we do this. For example, we are on the front line in the battle against the Swine Flu and have to follow strict guidelines on when a child has to be sent home and how long they have to be out.

On a daily basis, I see children who are hurt or sick and decide how we ought to treat them. If I feel that a child should see a doctor, I call his parents and tell them. I spend a great amount of time talking to parents, giving both support and health information. Screening is another important part of my job. This includes such things as checking vision and hearing.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best thing about my job is the satisfaction and joy that come from working with children. It is never boring and it is especially rewarding when I have referred somebody to a doctor and I am told that it was a good call. My very favorite thing is when a child writes me a letter or card that thanks me for being the nurse.

The worst thing about the job is the amount of paperwork. It is also hard to fit all the things I have to do into the time that I have.

Job Tips: I have found it very important to listen to the parent. No one knows a child like the parent. It is important to build a good working relationship with them.

I am required to do continuing education and I enjoy that because it keeps me current with the medical issues that I'll be dealing with. Remember, you always need to grow in your knowledge. When picking courses try to pick ones that are relevant to the things that you deal with in your practice.

Additional Thoughts: Some people think that school nursing only involves checking for lice and putting on bandages. But we actually do much more. We give emotional as well as physical support. Often, the health room is like a safe haven. When I have mentored nurses in school nursing, they are surprised at how busy my day is.

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