This year has been so tough. I seriously don’t think I can continue as a school nurse. I don’t see this situation getting any better next year. I love my job but this year has broken me.
School nurses are sharing their truths about how depleted and exhausted they feel. It is a stirring deep within their psyche, facing an existential question about remaining in this field they love so much. We have to name the feeling, acknowledge it, and sit with what it means before it is possible to heal. Sometimes we feel obligated to push on because after all, we are nurses, we can handle it. But, how much can we honestly handle before we cannot recover?
Where do you land on the mental wellness continuum? What do you need to move from struggling through surviving to thriving and excelling? Many of us are stuck in struggling even crisis throughout this pandemic year. The responsibilities that have been thrust on our broad, but weary shoulders are weighing heavily as the national emergency of COVID drags on month after month.
What has been most present is the place school nurses find themselves, trying to uphold public health mitigation strategies while getting extreme pushback from both staff and parents. Some think we are doing too much and others think we are not doing enough. There are innumerable instances of extreme disrespect where school nurses are hung up on, screamed at by frustrated parents who refuse to pick up sick children, or accused of not knowing what they are doing.
One school nurse summed it up perfectly when she said:
How can I maintain my professionalism while the wheels are coming off the bus?
We are not in this alone, although it can certainly feel isolating at times. Remember to connect to your county, state, and national organizations. NASN has done a wonderful job providing much-needed resources. There are support groups for school nurses. I run one in New Jersey that meets twice a week. Join us, we are here to support each other. School nurses need a safe space to land, just as we provide that in our school health offices for so many. Here is a virtual safe space to land on Sunday evenings at 7 pm or Mondays at 4 pm ET.