For most people, their definition of a school nurse is someone who stays in the clinic and puts bandages on kids who gets cuts and bruises or attends to sick children in school. But for Jeanne Schwasman,a registered nurse and a certified teacher, there is more to a school nurse than being a band-aid station.
School nurses do not only deal with illnesses and injuries, more than that, they also deal with educating the children with regards to health. In the event of an outbreak, like in the case of H1N1 or influenza virus, the role of the school nurse in educating the children on preventive measures is crucial to the control of the virus’ spread. Also, teaching students to identify the symptoms of the disease and telling them to go to the clinic as soon as they start to feel some of the said symptoms will aid in early diagnosis and avoid other students contracting the virus.
Apart from emergency health issues, health education in general is an important subject for children in the school age. Since not all teachers are well versed with the subject, and not all school nurses are certified teachers, coordination between teacher and nurse is the answer to providing a comprehensive, easy to understand health education program.
Nurses in the school setting also work as guidance counselors or sometimes even as second parents to the children. Though teachers are also capable of this responsibility, their authoritative figure puts a gap between students and teachers which makes it difficult for the children to approach teachers when they have issues at home or in school may it be with studies, with their peers, or even with family. Because of this, it is important that the school nurse show a positive persona to the children and let them feel that she is someone they can go to and confide in when they have problems. The nurse’s knowledge in the various developmental stages makes her understand the children better as well as provide good advices for them.
School nursing is a much broader nursing specialty and stretches farther than most people think. The majority’s perception of a school nurse’s responsibility is that she identifies children who are not well enough so they could be sent home. The truth is, it is the other way around, the main duty of the school nurse is to make sure that students are fit and healthy to stay in class and learn, and it doesn’t end there.