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Posted December 9, 2016

Supt. Reedy Recognizes School Nurses, Health Assistants

In her weekly message to employees, the superintendent thanks nurses for helping to keep students healthy.

School nurse Elizabeth Miller

As the cold air moved in this week, I noticed more and more people sniffling and coughing around the office and schools I visited. You’re probably seeing that as well among your coworkers and our students. It’s important to take care of yourself, to stay healthy. It’s important for us to help keep our students healthy, too. Thank goodness for school nurses and health assistants who make that their life’s work.

The school nurse is more than someone who takes temperatures and puts Band-Aids on knees. Much more. The 260 or so nurses and health assistants in our schools are critical members of the educational team. They teach. They support. They screen. They refer. They guide. They prevent.

Hospital nurses help patients when they are sick and hurting. School nurses often get to help patients before they get sick. Ask any school nurse, and they’ll tell you that is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. Prevention is a huge part of what they do on a daily basis, from teaching students (and reminding staff) of the importance of handwashing to prevent communicable diseases to helping children manage their own health care.  

School nurses make it possible for thousands of students with chronic illnesses to attend school who wouldn’t be able to otherwise. More than 8,000 of our students take medication at school. Children with asthma, diabetes, Attention Deficit Disorder, allergies, autism and much more benefit from having school nurses on campus.

School nurses also conduct vision, hearing and dental screenings, working in partnership with service providers to get families the care they need for their children.

Our nurses spend a lot of time teaching, too. Sometimes that means going into classrooms to teach students about health care; sometimes it means training staff in medical and safety issues; often it means working one on one with children. “Every time a kid walks into a health office, it’s an educational opportunity,” said Laura Case, APS Director of Nursing. “Nurses teach students to manage their own care and to advocate for themselves.”

Our nurses and health assistants also play an important role in times of tragedy, like this week when we inexplicably lost three young siblings to senseless violence. Our nurses work hand in hand with counselors and other mental health professionals to assist grieving students, staff and families. Several are trained in crisis management, and they are called on for behavior health and suicide assessments as well.

During weeks like this, it can be a very difficult job for all involved.

If you get a chance, let the school nurse know she or he is appreciated. Take care of yourself, hug your loved ones and hold them tight.

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