School nurses often work in isolation and have found camaraderie and virtual support through social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. School Nursing is a closed Facebook group with almost 7000 members. It was created several years ago to provide an outlet for support, share resources, and build a virtual community for school nursing colleagues. I was very interested in how the community started and what the moderators have learned along the way, so I invited them to share their stories through a guest blog!
The school nurse’s Facebook group was conceived to serve the need for nurses who typically practice in isolation to have a community and virtual coworkers all around the world. The school nurse is a very unique subspecialty in the healthcare profession. These nurses traditionally will be accountable for caring for hundreds of students as well as staff. It is a style of nursing that combines detective work, great intuition, and confidence in your clinical assessment skills. A tremendous amount of responsibility is bestowed upon the school nurse and she or he often does it, as the only medical practitioner in their school.
The Facebook group was created to fill the gap of loneliness as well as create a collaborative environment to make us all better nurses. Nurses by nature are hungry for learning something new, partnering with others, and sharing resources as well as their tricks of the trade. The group presently has close to 7000 members and grows rapidly daily. Administrators and moderators put forth a set of rules to try to keep the information accurate, pertinent, medically proven, non-political, while maintaining their sense of humor. This is no easy task as each state and country practices school nursing by their own respective regulations.
Opinions are important, but in this group, we try to provide an environment where a new school nurse would be set up for success. Where the contributions would be reliable and supported by published data. There are some common underlying themes with school nurses and there is a need for a community of support. The school nurse needs to adapt to being the only medical professional in an educational setting. Many times the school nurse feels unappreciated and undervalued. It is a career choice that is generally low paying nevertheless deeply rewarding. Individuals new to this role, even veteran nurses need to understand how to navigate through these atypical scenarios. We fight hard and advocate for our students to receive the most fulfilling educational experience imaginable all while navigating through the very political environments that are created in the educational system.
The group goes through trends and tends to become topic concentrated on specific themes. Sometimes it’s all about the new nurse who is trying to understand the interview process while other times it’s all about skin rashes. Other hot topics include administrators not consulting, venting over the parental relationships with the health office, lack of inventory budgets, creative solutions to everyday problems, where responsibilities lie, and good old nursing hacks. The group also does love a good joke every once in a while and definitely appreciates a meme that only a school nurse would laugh at.
The nurses collaborate and come up with solutions regarding medications, field trips, and understanding legalities. A 30-year veteran school nurse is always willing to share her secrets of the trade with the newbies. There is no underlying theme of being greedy with materials or knowledge. Nurses are always sharing their bulletin board ideas, their decorative doors, their office layouts, their posters, freebie sites, and tweak nursing passes as well as letters of communication. Not reinventing the wheel has been taken to a whole new level with this group. Sometimes as nurses we overthink the simple things and when we reach out within this group with a question or detail a problem within one hour that nurse may have feedback from 50 or more sister and brother nurses with solutions. It is as if these nurse strangers have the ongoing support of an orientation that just continues giving back. The dynamics of finding varying ways of tackling one issue is quite unique. The original poster has the advantage of taking the best and leaving the rest for what will work well within his/her environment.
There’s a certain bond amongst school nurses and for the most part, you can feel that in every single post. It is a safe place as a closed group where we can come together and be our true selves without judgment. Well, sometimes there is judgment but hopefully, it comes across as constructive and supports different perspectives in a professional manner. The group members are vetted by the moderators, who do their best to keep trolls away and anyone that may cause harm. All prospective members must answer a few questions while requesting access. We welcome nurses near and far with the goal of a supportive atmosphere to be our best for our students. So come join us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1563228190641726/
Meet the moderators:
Holly David, RN; 1 of several moderators of the FaceBook School Nursing Group brings a 25+year winding path of nursing experience. Holly began with OB/GYN where her love of teaching took place, became a hypnobirth educator and certified hypnotist, took on roles in-home care, evolved into sales and administrative roles, and eventually honed her marketing skills with multiple start-up companies. She now says she is in year 8 of her final 25-year path where she found school nursing was the perfect scratch to an itch of finding the perfect career-ending plan. School nursing allowed her a work schedule flexible to fit her family needs and a manageable stress level that worked best for her lifestyle. School nursing provides the stability and resources perfect for leading into retirement with a secured pension and allowances for multiple union and medical benefits to supplement retirement savings. Nothing would make Holly happier than to be back in the school nurse office caring for students and staff but since the very beginning of the pandemic took on a role with the department of health setting up SOPs for multiple COVID testing sites as well as antibody screening clinics and eventually tackling the nursing home challenges as a result of COVID. Holly is a proud wife & mom of 2 college-aged sons, huge Mets & Islanders fan, avid photographer, and loves binge-watching lots of great TV. She is always willing to mentor and share with her sister/brother nurses her experiences all with a sense of humor. @NurseHolly89 @hopeyousoap1
Ronda Wagner, RN has spent 11 years in School Nursing. Ronda is active in the Arkansas School Nurses Association, married and has 5 children and a son-in-law. Ronda and her husband Chad, love riding their motorcycle in their spare time. @RondaDWag
Beth Engelking, BSN RN, has been a nurse for 18 years. She became a school nurse in 2015. She struggled to find others who were dealing with the same issues that she was and saw how much negativity and misinformation was on Facebook about school nurses.
She created the School Nursing group as a way to connect with others, share information, and provide mutual support and respect for the school nursing profession. The group started out with just 2 members; Beth, and the only other school nurse she could find on Facebook, Jacki Rae. She is so proud of what this group has become, which has grown to almost 7k members!
Beth regrettably left her school nursing position in 2019 for reasons beyond her control, but school nursing will always have a special place in her heart. She continues to advocate for school nurses and is currently a triage nurse at an Internal Medicine clinic.