National School Nurse Day was established in 1972 as a way to foster a better understanding of the role school nurses play in the educational setting. This year, the recognition day takes place May 10, and Osseo Area Schools wanted to give a closer look at what school nurses do for our school communities by talking to a few of them about their careers. We spoke with Mary Newman from Crest View Elementary School, Yolanda Jones from Park Brook Elementary School, and Taylor Bartell and Kelly Kranz from Maple Grove Middle School.
What makes school nursing different from other nursing careers?
Jones said that a big difference between school nursing and other nursing careers is being part of the learning process, helping make sure kids have the resources and knowledge they need to live a healthy lifestyle and to feel better when they get ill. She also enjoys getting to hear their insights and fun stories.
“Elementary age is such a vital stage for children and their growth and education,” Jones said. “You get to be a part of it to make sure kids get what they need so they can grow and learn.”
Kranz said it has been easier to get to know and build a rapport with the students compared to the hospital patients she worked with previously, who are generally in and out quickly.
Newman said her career has been a dream job she has wanted since she was four years old, and she loves being able to see the patients/students more consistently, allowing her to build relationships with them.
What does a typical day look like for you?
The school nurses said they certainly spend time on the stereotypical things people might think of when imaging a school nurse: tending to ill or injured kids who come through their door. However, that’s the tip of the iceberg when considering the full scope of their responsibilities, including medications, creating health plans, helping students manage ongoing medical needs, mental health and emotional needs, evaluations and meetings for individualized education plans (IEPs), and collaborating with families and other school professionals like counselors or social workers, and more.
In addition, school nurses also play important roles in the softer side of education: being a listening ear for students that pop in to say hello, share a story or a concern they’re dealing with, give a hug, making sure kids have the clothing/outerwear they need if a need arises, helping students with hair if a caregiver couldn’t help that morning, and providing hygiene items when needed, to name a few.
“You just provide whatever the kids need, because you get it all,” Jones said. “You really do get it all.”
“You have to go the extra mile,” Newman added. “It’s a little bit extra beyond the nursing duty.”
What do you want the community to know about school nursing?
Newman said it’s a role that really has to wear many hats and work together with other staff in the building to ensure the students are taken care of. There is often just one school nurse per site, depending on building size, so the school nurse needs to pull all their knowledge and resources together to make the best medical decisions.
Bartell said she wants the community to know that school nurses still go through all the same training as a hospital nurse and are as knowledgeable as a nurse you’d find anywhere else.
Jones said she wants the community to know how wide-ranging the responsibilities of a school nurse can be.
“It’s not just a band-aid,” Jones said. “It gets really busy in here. We rely on good teamwork between the health office nurse and parents to make sure kids are getting what they need.”