Everyone that has been educated in a public school remembers the iconic school nurse. If you had an accident, a fever, or just felt ‘icky’, the school nurse was there for you. She or he was the school’s first line of defense against illness and injury in their small patrons.
School nurses no longer dispense medication as they did in years past freely. At one time it was normal to hear that the nurse would give you Tylenol or aspirin – today a student must have a prescription and bring in their own medication with strict instructions.
School nurses may offer first aid. if a student is hurt, the nurse will offer first aid and support until the parents or emergency services arrive.
Nurses that work in schools also have the opportunity to provide the first contact many people have with nurses. Children from all walks of life may base their love or hate of the medical profession based on these first caregivers. School nurses are often called upon to soothe children that are in hysterics, need to be removed from playground equipment, or that have absolutely nothing wrong at all!
For instance, one nurse on a popular school nurse forum recalls two children with very red throats during a strep outbreak. No pain was mentioned by the student, but a familiar odor was present – cherries! A school nurse may have to be an investigator – ruling out the ever present coloring of foodstuff in order to properly diagnose children. Who wouldn’t prefer to see a cherry flavored throat over a sore, strep infected one?
Children also depend on their school nurses. Today children that are disabled are mainstreamed into public school in order to better serve educational needs. Unlike yesteryear, we realize that a disability does not equal diminished IQ in all cases. School nurses serve disabled children that have very different needs from their ‘normal’ counterparts. From autism to spina-bifida, the school nurse is there.
Disabled students offers a unique challenge to the school nurse. These nurses work closely with teachers in order to help students with disabilities function and receive the best education. The nurses are also in contact with parents to keep them up to date on their child’s progress or condition.
No matter what, the school nurse is an important figure in all public schools (and private schools, too). Every student and teacher can be safe thanks to these staff members.