School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: What Happened at School Today – Listen to Tessa McIlraith’s Podcast to Find Out!

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Tessa McIllraith wanted to amplify the voice of school nursing, so she took a risk and sent a hilarious message to a nurse podcaster about what happened on a given Tuesday in her school health office. Christine, the Nurse Practitioner who hosts Antidotes – Stories in Medicine Podcast was so intrigued by Tessa’s message, she invited her on the show.  Take time to listen to this entertaining and honest account that Tessa shared in one of the best podcasts I have heard about school nursing. Great job Tessa, you represented school nursing professionally, brilliantly and honestly. Kudos to you for a job well done!
This is what Tessa wrote to Christine:
I’m a school nurse. I oversee preschool through age 21 public education. I probably have a few funny stories, but ultimately I don’t know that the general public knows what we do. Today for example, while trying to find donations of fruit for national healthy food week I had to convince a student with ASD that he most likely did not contract TB at school. Plus wrapping sprain wrists, curling iron burns, self inflicted burns from air compressor, daily meds, anxiety check-ins, create new AED protocols, find policy for possibly soon to be mandated Narcan manage diabetes via text (because High schoolers don’t “come to the health room”), drug Impairment check…why the hell does this kid have nystagmus? why was he locked in the bathroom with another male… which way do I go with this convo, student lifted too heavy of weights dropped bar on chest, cannot lift arm and wants to drive to his next class (off-campus program) NO SON, you are going to the doctor and here is my boy scout sling out of a triangle bandage because budgets. Happy Tuesday! Also, joined a healthy community coalition because How Do You NOT have a medical professional on the committee?
whew…basically I love your podcast and interested in sharing about school nurses because everyone thinks we hand out ice packs and band-aids.
-Tessa Mcilraith, BSN, RN
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Tessa McIlraith, BSN, RN
I had been listening to podcasts recently and really enjoyed hearing perspectives from all over the country and world. My kids and I listen to a lot of science podcasts. One day I searched for school nurse podcasts and only found a couple from NASN. It left me wanting more.
I recently participated in a book study of From Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public by Bernice Buresh and Suzanne Gordon.  It had inspired me to use my voice more to promote the “nurse” in a light beyond a virtuous duty.
My career that I worked so hard to get is grounded in evidence-based practice and embellished with compassion. I decided to write to one of my favorite podcasters, Christine from Antidotes – Adventures in Medicine, and share my story. I was a little nervous about reaching out, but honestly, the worst thing to happen was she could say “no”. So I sent a quick email.  It wasn’t long that we were setting up a date to record. All I needed was a computer, internet connection, and I used a headset with microphone. We talked for a little bit right before to establish vocals on the computer and if it was clear. We generally discussed ideas and off we went. We just had a conversation. The podcast really was just me sharing my passion with another nurse (practitioner). I had listened to her other podcasts and knew we had a similar tone and enthusiasm. In the last few years, I have intentionally worked on growth in communication. I hoped this would lend me an opportunity to share and it has. Honestly, I hesitated to share that it was me. I worried. But if we all worried and never spoke up who would? I hope my voice portrays the professionalism, sincerity and hope I have for school nursing.
Listen to the podcast by clicking the green arrow below:

Bio of Tessa McIlraith, BSN, RN:
I started my nursing career as a CNA and worked my way from LPN to BSN. School nursing has been an amazing adventure. I love working with students and families for a longer duration throughout their education. It is gratifying seeing students learn to navigate their health and education goals. Leadership and advocacy are vital to being a school nurse. As a medical professional in the education setting, I must keep up on a variety of skills and knowledge about a very widespread practice. My goal is to be an asset to my community for health and well-being. Our practice is based on evidence-based practices and we are professionals. As the Legislative Chair of our state school nurse organization, I am a voice that helps our legislators and administrators fully understand and acknowledge the work school nurses do. I also enjoy the outdoors, own a farm, teach at a dance studio and have a wonderful, active family!
Workload: I currently am a District nurse overseeing 2 other amazing registered nurses and 9 health assistants. My caseload includes preschool to our transition program for up to 21-year-old students. I have approximately 1400 students and 2 buildings.
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