School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: Please Hold the Peanut M&Ms


Screen Shot 2018-06-24 at 6.02.20 AMNo matter how much planning we do, it seems like having an “uninterrupted” lunch is not in the cards for school nurses.  On one hand, that speaks to the necessity of having full nursing coverage in every school during every period.  On the other hand, sometimes we need a brain and body break from the chaotic ballet that traipses through our offices from morning until afternoon.

One example, that I remember as clearly as though it happened yesterday, was during my “uninterrupted” lunch.  I usually stay in my building because sometimes it is the path of least resistance.  But, I do leave my health office and find a quiet space to clear my mind for at least 30 minutes.  I always tell the Main Office where I will be, but it seems that the entire school knew my hiding places anyway.

This day, I was hiding in a preschool classroom during their naptime. It is deliciously dark, quiet and everyone knows that naptime is sacred in preschool. Until, the door burst open, in that kind of frenzy where your school nursing alarms are blaring and the sirens are going off in your head.

Standing in front of me was one of my students with peanut allergies.  He was escorted by the brand-new speech therapist, who was just out of school and new to the building.  While my student had a sheepish quasi-grin on his face, the therapist was in a frenzy and could barely explain the issue at hand.

I quickly came to understand that the speech therapist’s favorite snack was Peanut M&M’s, which she used for students who did well in speech. Unfortunately, she did not consider the students that may have peanut allergies. Need I say more?  Any school nurse reading this can fill in the blanks for the rest of the story.

The good news is that my student was treated and was absolutely fine after much frenzy, concern, Benadryl, Epi, and a trip to the ER.  The well-meaning speech therapist learned the lesson of a lifetime and needless to say now never uses food of any kind for “treats.” Once my heart and respiratory rate returned to normal, I quietly finished my lunch.

Calm in the chaos is my mantra…calm in the chaos.


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