Many in the public, even many nurses, aren’t aware of all of the important things school nurses do on a daily basis. School nurses play an integral role in the health of our children and our communities.
What does it take to be an exceptional school nurse? These are some of the tools that school nurses have in their tool kit. What else should go on the list?
1. A kind, but firm demeanor
Effective school nurses are approachable and compassionate. They show caring and kindness. But they need to set firm limits, too. Finding the balance is easier said than done.
2. Excellent communication skills
School nurses need to communicate effectively with faculty and staff, students, parents and members of the community. Whether it’s a phone call home due to illness or injury or a community health alert, school nurses must provide a large group of people with clear and understandable health information.
3. Ability to stay calm in an emergency
From disaster plans to asthma attacks and anaphylactic reactions, the school nurse must remain a calm and reassuring leader throughout.
4. First aid know-how
For those bumps and bruises, sprains and broken bones, school nurses provide first aid to students who befall some of those common childhood injuries.
5. A fib detection system
Whether it’s the teen who denies smoking but smells like cigarette smoke, or the third-grader who says their belly hurts when they’re actually looking to go home to mom, the school nurse knows when to take things at face value and when to investigate further.
6. Health screening knowledge
School nurses are relied upon to detect potential medical problems early. They often are the first line of healthcare for students in the community. School nurses screen for obesity, hearing and vision limitations, musculoskeletal issues, lice and mental health issues, among other things.
7. Case management skills
School nurses often are the liaison between school personnel, students and their families, other healthcare providers, and the community. They play an integral role in IEP development and may facilitate access to health insurance and helping establish a medical home for students without one.
8. Ability to teach
School nurses educate students, faculty and parents about a variety of health topics, from health promotion to disease, vaccinations to home safety.
What is missing from the list? School nurses, we want to hear from you!