School Nursing: Nursing without a Net

nursing_signFloor nurses are almost always looking into other avenues of nursing, and sometimes our thoughts can take us down the path into career school nursing. Blinded by our own problems, it may seem like a school nurse doesn’t have the problems that other nurses deal with.

Like many thoughts in this vein, the reality doesn’t mesh with the dreamy fantasy. Although you may not have an assignment of highly acute patients, school nurses do have their share of problems when dealing with parents, kids, and staff.

The state of health care is appalling right now, and school nurses are sometimes on the chopping block, overworked, and underappreciated. If you have thought about school nursing, here are some of the issues you should consider before turning in your cart key.

School Nurses as Primary Care

Depending on the socioeconomic level of the school you are working in, you may be the only medical personnel who sees a child regularly. This means that all of their routine medical care is coming from you, unless it is bad enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.

Some kids and parents don’t have health insurance or can’t afford the copays when they go for routine checkups. This means that either the nurse notices long-term problems first or they are primarily left to treat long-term issues without a primary care physician.

In fact, some kids line up outside the school nurse’s office on Monday morning to have sprains, bruises, and other routine problems checked out for free by the school nurse. Of course, this is dangerous, and it puts a great deal of pressure on the school nurse to give these kids the best care they can.

Managing Illness

One of the primary responsibilities of school nurses is to manage chronic illness in children. You would assume that the medications and information would be on hand and easily accessible, but they often aren’t.

Floor nurses are almost always looking into other avenues of nursing, and sometimes our thoughts can take us down the path into career school nursing.  Blinded by our own problems, it may seem like a school nurse doesn’t have the problems that other nurses deal with.

Like many thoughts in this vein, the reality doesn’t mesh with the dreamy fantasy.  Although you may not have an assignment of highly acute patients, school nurses do have their share of problems when dealing with parents, kids, and staff.

The state of health care is appalling right now, and school nurses are sometimes on the chopping block, overworked, and underappreciated.  If you have thought about school nursing, here are some of the issues you should consider before turning in your cart key.

School Nurses as Primary Care

Depending on the socioeconomic level of the school you are working in, you may be the only medical personnel who sees a child regularly.  This means that all of their routine medical care is coming from you, unless it is bad enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.

Some kids and parents don’t have health insurance or can’t afford the copays when they go for routine checkups.  This means that either the nurse notices long-term problems first or they are primarily left to treat long-term issues without a primary care physician.

“As with any nursing job, red tape is rampant in the school nursing career.”

In fact, some kids line up outside the school nurse’s office on Monday morning to have sprains, bruises, and other routine problems checked out for free by the school nurse.  Of course, this is dangerous, and it puts a great deal of pressure on the school nurse to give these kids the best care they can.

Managing Illness

One of the primary responsibilities of school nurses is to manage chronic illness in children.  You would assume that the medications and information would be on hand and easily accessible, but they often aren’t.

Some kids don’t realize they have a chronic condition, and some parents don’t know how to treat them with the medications their doctor prescribed.  For instance, asthma kids have a particularly hard time because some parents may not give maintenance meds or they may not know how to properly use an inhaler.

The information isn’t available, either, because parents don’t take their children to the doctor to get forms filled out.  Sometimes, they will outright lie on the forms to hide problems their children may have, and this means that a nurse is blindsided when a child has an issue during school hours.

Red Tape and Politics

As with any nursing job, red tape is rampant in the school nursing career.  Some districts think that one nurse to travel around to several schools is a perfectly acceptable paradigm, and you can expect nurses are cut first in budget blow-ups.

Another problem is parents who disagree with the nurse in the treatment of their child.  This can often lead to backlashes with principles and school boards, sometimes putting the nurse’s job on the line.

It isn’t unusual for a parent to call a nurse incompetent when they suggest a different course of treatment, and they are also usually not happy when the nurse respects privacy and fails to disclose pregnancy or drug abuse.  Dealing with the politics of these parents is no different than dealing with ones on the floor, but these are the issues that school nurses endure that even those in the nursing profession don’t realize they are up against.

Some kids don’t realize they have a chronic condition, and some parents don’t know how to treat them with the medications their doctor prescribed. For instance, asthma kids have a particularly hard time because some parents may not give maintenance meds or they may not know how to properly use an inhaler.

The information isn’t available, either, because parents don’t take their children to the doctor to get forms filled out. Sometimes, they will outright lie on the forms to hide problems their children may have, and this means that a nurse is blindsided when a child has an issue during school hours.

, ,

Skip to toolbar