I have officially been a school nurse for almost 2 months. Wow! Long time, right!? Well, I have about 8 years of hospital nursing behind me and let me tell you- school nursing and hospital nursing are 2 completely different ball games! I want to share with you all that I’ve learned during this first month and a half on the job.
DO NOT show weakness, they can sense it. Especially those middle schoolers and high schoolers. I think the first week I was here I was dishing out way too much sympathy. I swear kids were going back to class from the nurses office saying, “Go see the new nurse! She’s so gullible!” “You can get away with anything!” And, “If I pour it on a little worse then she might send me home”. This may sound really mean, but if you’ve ever worked with kids then you WILL know what I’m talking about. I think the key is to give EMPATHY not SYMPATHY and if you don’t know the difference- look it up. It didn’t take me long to realize that if I would tell my own kids that they are fine and to go back to class then its ok to tell my students that they’re fine and go back to class.
Most kids are healthy. Know the ones that aren’t and have a plan in place. A thermometer, crackers, water, ice packs, band aids, lotion, and a listening ear are the best day to day on-the-job tools.
Do not assume anything or judge anyone. I do not know what happens before these kids get to school every morning and I do not know what they face when they go home. When parents go through hard times, so do their kids. Life is not easy. Every one of us is dealing with something. We are all in a difference spot in our life and no one knows what’s coming next. I believe every parent and child is doing the best they can do with the life that they have.
There are way more emotional problems than physical ones. It is not easy for a student to come in and say, “I’m having a hard time dealing with life right now”. They will instead say that their stomach is hurting or maybe that they’re tired, dizzy, or something else. Kids are not good at describing how they feel, heck most adults aren’t either. It’s easier to say that something on your body hurts. Because let’s be honest, when you feel crappy inside something on the outside usually hurts too. I try to make a little conversation, and try to find out what is really going on. Sometimes they talk, sometimes they don’t. I think the most important thing is that they know we care and interested in listening.
If in doubt, call the parent. Parents generally know their child best. There are times when I am unsure of what is going on with a student and almost every time I have received the clarification I need just by calling mom or dad. I also think most parents appreciate a phone call to keep them informed about what’s going on. I’ve never had a parent upset with me so far for calling to find out more information about their kid’s circumstance. Most parents are happy to know that their child is being cared for at school and are more than willing to give you any information you need to help their child get through the rest of the day.
Communicate with the teachers, paras, secretaries, counselors, and principals. Depending on the grade, each person may only see a snippet of that student’s day and when you start talking some things start making a little more sense with what might be going on with that student.
Lastly, I have come to learn how much that this job is not about me. It isn’t about advancing to higher opportunities. It sure as heck isn’t about the pay! I am just a small piece of this large puzzle that makes up our school district. This school belongs to the students and the community. I am just grateful to be a part of it.