Somebody's Gotta Do It: School Nurse

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Nowadays scrubs are the new uniform of choice for virtually every type of medical professional, including the school nurse.

The uniform is not the only thing that has changed.  "It's just not a one-on-one with you and a patient," said Jan Durham, RN, Lufkin Independent School District, Lead Nurse.  "If they're sick when they get out of the car, they're going to come right to this door to our office, log in and tell me what's going on."

School nurses still handle the aches and pains and occasional fevers their patients may suffer, but add to that the high volume of testing.  This month it is scoliosis.  "In the fall we start probably after Labor Day we usually start with elementaries and then we test pre-k through 2 and then 3-5 on vision and hearing then we do 7th grade hearing so that's in the fall."  And add on top of that the enormous amount of state mandated paperwork they must do.

Durham says computerization and other technology have helped tremendously to streamline their workflow, improve efficiencies and their diagnosis, which makes them more accountable.  "I always say if you desire to be a nurse you have to like people and working alone is not an option.  If you're a nurse, you have to be part of a team."

They are counselors…"Sometimes it's beyond medical, it's personal, 'Susie won't talk to me today, she's mad at me my friend is angry with me,' it's talking through those social things also."

Confidantes…"If there's something going on with friends, or even something going on with family, sometimes they'll seek you out to come and talk to sometimes."

And sometimes surrogate moms…"Another situation that I think of is a young lady that used to come in every morning and we would kind of share a little bit of breakfast and she would let me braid her hair."

And then when they least expect it, they get a sign of how much they're appreciated.  "A couple of years ago a principle Mrs. Evans did an exercise with the students where they were able to put names on the walls in the library of people that made a difference and she asked the staff to go over and look at it. And, I didn't realize that our names as nurses we were listed, and some of the students actually put their name under our name as making a difference for them, and so it was my desire to find each student just try to figure out what it was that made a difference, and it was that one on one contact, or just you let me sit for a minute and talk to you.

Durham says this time of the year they are busy dealing with a lot of upper respiratory complaints and stomach flu.  She says the school nurses do not worry so much about the spread of germs because they practice proper hand washing and lots of it.

School Nurse…"Our job is to enhance education while promoting health in a school setting by getting them back to class as soon as possible."

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