April 23, 2015
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
If you are looking for a way to merge your career as a nurse with your innate love for children, you should consider a career as a school nurse. Experienced school nurses readily admit that caring for children in the school environment is tremendously satisfying. However, you should know that being a school nurse is no child’s play. School nurses do much more than just kiss ‘boo-boos’ and apply band-aids to tiny nicks and scrapes. In many schools, you will more likely than not be the only healthcare member on campus, where you will be fully responsible for an entire cohort of under 16 year-olds. It won’t always be an easy ride.
School nurses play a crucial role within the school health system, providing seamless care to children of all ages and suffering from a wide range of ailments and injuries. In this role, you will be responsible for providing emergency treatment after falls and fights as well as consistent care to children suffering from chronic ailments such as asthma and allergies.
Contrary to popular belief, school nursing is hard work. As a school nurse you will have to follow up with students on various healthcare aspects, from immunisation shots to following up on mandatory health programs and keeping students’ health records. There is a lot of paperwork involved and each child’s records will have to be updated regularly. Getting to know your students is important as it allows you to immediately recognise when something is amiss with their health.
School nursing is largely autonomous. In case of emergencies, decisions have to be taken in a split second and this is where the challenge lies. There is no back up or support staff to offer support or second opinions as there would be in a hospital. If a child’s life is in danger, you have to rely on your own judgment and take a call on what to do. Without a Code Blue team, a school nurse has to make things right on her own.
There’s no place for incompetence in a school when it comes to nursing staff. To be able to make judgment calls on your own, in addition to being very competent on the job, you will also need to be very knowledgeable about child healthcare. Most schools today have children from different countries. As a school nurse, you will also have to connect and communicate with students of different cultures. Every school has its share of students suffering from chronic medical problems, sometimes of which could be life threatening, such as severe food allergies. There could also be children with physical disabilities who need more help than others. As a school nurse you will have to help them learn to manage their symptoms.
Very often, the school nurse has the task of playing the go-between for teachers and students, students and parents or administration and students. In your role as a school nurse, you have to master the art of being involved yet objective so you can make sound health decisions that are in the child’s best interest.