Throughout my five years of continuous blogging as The Relentless School Nurse, I have had the privilege of connecting with school nurses from coast to coast. COVID has created a national community of school nurses sharing our perspectives as we manage this endless pandemic and seek support to continue the work. One of my trusted colleagues is Judy Doran, a Maine school nurse leader. Judy’s message will resonate with all of us:
The state of affairs in school health offices is at an unsustainable level. In addition to our normal responsibilities managing chronic conditions, acute illnesses and injuries, immunization tracking and the normal mountains of paper work at the beginning of the year we are now de facto health departments.The health offices of today bear little resemblance to what we all know and love in school nursing. We are covid clinics, swab and send sites if we’re participating in pooled testing, local Public Health/Contact tracing offices and COVID vaccination registries for staff and students.I don’t know any school nurse who is not regularly working outside of contracted hours. The vast majority of families are working very hard to follow guidance and help keep everybody safe but reports of tricky to abusive interactions with parents are increasing. The nurses are working really hard in incredibly difficult circumstances and I’m proud of them but I am worried that they are doing so at a high cost to their mental and physical health. The conversation of moral injury is being floated in our circles now. This is an incredible slog.And we haven’t even hit October yet…..and please, no disrespect to anybody but please don’t call us heroes or champions of education. We are nurses doing our job.