A group of school nurses has quietly gathered every Sunday evening from 7 – 8 pm for more than two years in support of each other. The numbers fluctuate but usually hover around 15. For an hour most Sunday nights, we come together to provide peer support. The conversations focused on the stressors related to COVID and the impact on our health and well-being as we scrambled to keep up with the ever-changing public health emergency. We worked through the grief, worry, and realities of pandemic school nursing. I am forever indebted to the pioneer school nurses who shared their COVID experiences with our group in this unique virtual forum.
While COVID continues to be the thread that connects group members, our conversation moves through other challenges of school nursing practice. The discussions are private and confidential. We have co-created a safe space to share the stark realities as COVID drags on endlessly through our fourth school year. As a group of healthcare professionals who are socialized to give care, it is a welcome relief to receive care too.
As we move into our third year of ongoing support, I think of this special group of school nurses as trusted friends who come together like a life raft in a choppy sea. Sometimes the ocean is pounding us with wave upon wave of non-stop challenges, other times, the seas are calm. Having this life raft, even for a brief time, sustains me for another week in the deep waters of pandemic school nursing.
There is power and healing in peer support, a recognized modality in SAMHSA.
- Peer support is a flexible approach that people who share common experiences can use to build relationships that support each other’s growth and healing and open up new ways of understanding oneself and others.
- The core values of peer support focus on mutuality, reciprocity, non-judgmental, and sharing power in non-hierarchical ways.
- Peer support can take different forms and can take place in a wide variety of settings.
- In peer support, we support and challenge each other as we develop new ways to interpret and make meaning of our life experiences, our relationships, and our futures. – Retrieved from Peer Support Fundamentals
I offer my deepest appreciation to those school nurses who have joined me on most Sunday evenings as we continue this journey of healing through sharing our lived experiences. We have managed to create a soft space to land and for that, I am forever grateful. Our journey continues thanks to the ongoing support of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey. They have provided us with the Zoom room and tools to continue our conversation bi-monthly. Special gratitude to Nurse Holly for promoting our group through the School Nursing Facebook page.
Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are a school nurse and interested in attending an upcoming session.