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...while officials in Grant Co. and Williamstown Ind. prepare to honor their nurses for helping keep kids well; May 10 is National School Nurse Day
r Grant County News, Williamstown, May 4, 2017

Celebrating GC, Will. school nurses

By Camille McClanahan

Grant and Williamstown school nurses will be celebrating their profession on May 10 during national school nurse day.

Many school nurses are the unsung heroes of the day-to-day operations of the school day and making sure children are safe and always have a helping hand.

“I think National School Nurse day is a special occasion to recognize the care and concern nurses give to others the sacrifices and accomplishments that assist students, families and staff learn and promote independent healthy lifestyles,” Elaine M. Dubis, RN, BSN, Grant County High School nurse said.

According to the National Association of School Nurses, the day was established to foster a better understanding of the role of school nurses in the educational setting.

By definition, a school nurse is a specialized practice of nursing that advances the well being, academic success and lifelong achievement and health of students.

“It is a day to recognize and lift each other up.” Mary Beagle, district health coordinator/MasonCorinth - health services nurse said. “School nursing is such a unique form of community health nursing, and often seems to be unintentionally overlooked in the hustle and bustle of teaching and testing.”

“National School Nurse Day is a day to reflect on my practice and take pride in what I do,” Kathy Surrett, Williamstown School district nurse said.

The qualifications for a school nurse must be a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse.

“I have a BSN from Thomas More College, worked five years at Grant Manor and this is my second year as a full time school nurse,” Beagle said.

Grant County and Williamstown school nurses perform a variety of tasks on a daily basis.

“First and foremost, we bring comfort when a student feels he or she needs it most. That may be in the form of a BandAid, an icepack or even a hug. In addition to that, we provide daily care and a routine to students with very complex and chronic conditions. We monitor health and immunization records, monitor trends and patterns, provide disease education and management, ensure a healthy environment, implement policy and always offer a safe place for students in need,” Beagle said.

“A school nurse must be very independent and think through all aspects of a problem in order to find a solution.” Dubis said. “A strong medical knowledge base is of necessity. With the independence also comes the importance of good communication with families, students and staff and the ability to discuss and share situations in order make the best decision for all concerned.”

“Although no two days are the same, my daily routine includes administering medication, managing asthma, assisting students with diabetes, monitoring seizures, allergies, tube feedings, health screenings such as vision and hearing, tracking immunizations, monitoring health and safety issues in the school and infection control,” Surrett said. “Some of my day also entails bandaging knees, managing illness and lots of hugs and encouraging words and a listening ear.”

While challenging, a child’s need to be seen by a physician relies strictly on the nurses training and experience.

“I see our limitations and our strengths as one and the same,” Beagle said. “We are limited in that we do not have a doctor to provide orders, no one to readily consult and a limited amount of supplies. I feel these are also our strengths as it makes us autonomous, versatile, flexible and resourceful. Our focus is on health promotion and disease prevention more than disease treatment as in acute care.”

The regular job duties performed by a school nurse are constantly changing.

“My routine is never routine.” Beagle said. “I have certain children with chronic conditions I see on a regular schedule. Other than that, my days are unpredictable and never the same, which is why I love it so much!”

Dubis believes that as the school year goes on with various situations and dilemmas with the health care of a student, people begin to realize how the nurse becomes a problem solver in assisting with care and treatment.

“As I tell students, we together can figure out most problems that at times appear overwhelming and heartbreaking,” Dubis said.

While this career choice may be challenging, it also has many rewards.

Beagle feels that school nurses touch at least one life every day. They facilitate change and provide health education. There is almost always follow-up and they witness progression.

“There is at least one reward each day, she said. Every student who leaves with a smile where there was a tear is a reward.”

Dubis has had many rewarding experiences.

“I feel one of the most was a student who asked me to sit down with grandparents through a very difficult situation, she said. The student was so upset that I had to speak for this person. In the end, all were forgiving and were united as a family,” Dubis said.

Dubis sees anywhere from 50 to 70 students in any given day. Their complaints range from medical and emotional concerns, education in treatment and preventative health care to injuries occurred during school and sports by students and staff.

Dubis also has scheduled and as needed medications to assist with.

School nurses have a responsibility to not only students, but parents and staff as well.

“I feel we probably will all share the same quote: “You can’t educate a child who isn’t healthy, and you can’t keep a child healthy who isn’t educated,” Beagle said.

Surrett said that when students are healthy they have a better chance to learn to their full potential.

“I love being a part of the student’s school experience and being part of their ‘story,” Surrett said. “Each day I try to remind the students they are special, unique and worthy of attention. I feel very fortunate to have a job that I love as a school nurse. Everyday is an adventure.”