Being a school nurse is no small task, but it's an under-appreciated job in many ways. It's no longer a job that is about Band-Aids and lollipops and calling the parents of feverish children. Now it has become more and more complicated with less and less support.
Imagine being the nurse to more than 1,100 kids every single day because that is what she -- 99 percent of school nurses are women -- is likely to do.
With new medical care and inclusive schools, there are more disabled children with strong needs like respirators, feeding tubes, or catheters. In addition, diabetes, asthma, and severe allergies are far more common. So here are nine reasons to thank your school nurse today:
- She's juggling: There are student expectations, parental expectations, administrative expectations, and state board expectations, and she deals with all of them on a daily basis.
- She's a good communicator: Can you imagine trying to get kindergartners to tell you what is wrong with them? Now multiply that by 45 and maybe you have an idea of her day. It's not easy and it takes special skill.
- She deals with contagion: Guess who is the first person to see your child with pink eye or a high fever? Guess who puts herself (and her family) at risk by working in the germiest place in the world? It's not easy to be exposed to everything under the sun every single day.
- Her job is scary: If a child has an asthma attack or a peanut allergy and there are only seconds to spare, who makes it to them first? She is responsible for the lives of children, which is scary enough as a mom times two. What if I had 1,100 kids?
- Lice: 'Nuff said.
- She solves puzzles: When a child comes into her office, he or she can't always state clearly what the problem is, so it's up to the nurse to figure it out. It isn't a small task. Just ask a 6-year-old how their day was and you will understand.
- She is needed: In schools where there is no school nurse, tragedy can strike. According to Parenting, only 45 percent of public schools have a full-time dedicated nurse. A full 25 percent have no nurse at all. It may seem like something that can be cut, but when push comes to shove, she could be the one saving your child's life.
- They stop epidemics: It was a school nurse that called the New York City Department of Health after becoming alarmed by the number of sick students she was seeing, which alerted authorities that H1N1 had arrived.
- They keep your kids well: Nurses who are in districts with funding provide vision and hearing screening exams. They teach children good hygiene and they offer obesity prevention by discussing nutrition and keeping an eye on kids for signs of weight problems.
Do you thank your school nurse?
Image via lucyfrench123/Flickr