As part of our half-semester of pediatric nursing, my fellow nursing students and I spent a couple weeks with a school nurse. Before going, I was unenthusiastic. I was sure that spending more time in the hospital would be a better use of our limited time. Turns out, school nursing was of higher value to me. My school nurse had been an ER nurse, which is common. If you think about it, it makes sense. School nurses need to have superior assessment skills and experience triaging patients. As someone who wants to work in an ER, it was great experience and lots of it.
I remember my elementary school nurse as being someone who put on band-aids and let you lie down in her office when you had a stomachache. While we did those things, it's a small part of the job. During my four days there I gave out prescription medications, fed a kid through his gastric tube, washed sand out of eyes, bandaged hands and feet, iced potential sprains, conducted vision and hearing tests, checked temps and throats a hundred times, and on and on. It was busy with a steep learning curve.
For many of these kids, the school nurse is their major source of healthcare. They don't have insurance of any kind and can't even afford to go to outpatient clinics. It's a lot of responsibility for the nurse. On a regular basis, she has to accompany families to appointments to ensure that they go and often to translate as well. Every year she works with the PTA to raise money for eye appointments so kids who need glasses can get them. I see now that school nursing requires quick-thinking, resourcefulness, and huge amount of dedication.
Again, I don't want to go into this kind of nursing, but it was valuable experience and something I will draw upon in the future.