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Career Story: Elementary School Nurse

Elementary School Nurse

Job Title: Elementary School Nurse

Education: MSN from Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA •• BSN from University of Bridgeport, Bridgeport, CT

Previous Experience: My first job was in a hospital in a step down ICU after college. After that I worked in the community health field (including school nursing) for five years prior to moving abroad (Israel) and raising my family. I've been back in the work force for the past 10 years and working as a school nurse in various capacities.

Job Tasks: "A child must be healthy to learn and a child must learn to be healthy." (MDPH)

As a school nurse, I must have a bachelor's degree in nursing and have passed a literacy exam that all teachers are required to take. Furthermore, I need to be certified in school nursing through either a master's degree (which I have) or by taking another exam.

School nursing originated in the beginning of the 20th century in an attempt to reduce absenteeism from communicable diseases. While that role has expanded a bit, my first and foremost responsibility in this job is to support student success by providing health care assessment, intervention, and follow-up for all children within the school setting.

I multitask on a daily basis. My job involves providing health screenings (hearing, vision, height/weight, scoliosis- curvature of the spine) mandated by law for all children in a given grade. However, aside from this, on any given day, my job can vary from something as simple as giving out bandaids, comforting a sick child, and providing a safety pin to hold up a pair of pants to dealing with serious playground accidents, seizures, cardiac and/or respiratory emergencies on a daily basis.

My job will infrequently involves teaching in the classroom on a variety of health topics (hygiene, handwashing, cough ettiquette- coughing into your sleeve, dental health, etc.) but so much of my teaching occurs on a daily basis as kids come into the health room.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is working with the children in this school. They are all from such varied backgrounds and have such unique experiences/perspectives that I learn from them on a daily basis. The worse part of this job has got to be the paperwork. It is interminable.

Job Tips:
1. Be prepared for the unexpected. You have to love your job.

2. Aside from the obvious nursing background and interest in working with children, so much of this job is a cross between mothering, social worker, repair/maintenance person, spell checker, homework helper, etc. I wear a different hat each day.

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