Sheila Taney wrote today’s guest blog post to share her journey to school nursing after a thirty-year nursing career. Why did she choose school nursing, after it had never been on her radar….or so she thought? Welcome to school nursing, Sheila, you are a valued colleague, and have already made an impact on your preschool students.
School nurse? You have got to be kidding me. I have been a nurse for 30 years. I never ever thought of becoming a school nurse at any point in my nursing career. My career has spanned from pediatric acute and subacute care to home care to utilization management to management to community health and beyond. Here I am, a School Nurse. I worked many casual part-time nursing jobs while raising my children to ‘keep my feet wet”. I subbed in my children’s Catholic elementary school several times. I loved it and the rest is history. I worked as a substitute school nurse for three years in various public and non-public preschools to High Schools in South Jersey. One school nurse at a school that I frequently worked in said to me on several occasions, “you should go get your cert”. I laughed at her every time and said “never” because I did not want to return to school. I am now on the cusp of completing my NJ school nurse certification coursework. As the old saying goes, never say never.
I narrowed my career choices to nursing (like my cousin) or teaching (like my father) as a 17-year-old High School Senior. I chose to become a nurse because I like to help people. My father was a LaSalle (college) University Alumnus, and I broke his heart by enrolling at Villanova University. To be fair and to end his arguments with me, LaSalle did not have an undergraduate nursing program at the time. In the world of Big Five basketball, LaSalle beat Villanova every game in my four years at Villanova. My father got his payback. I will put my love of college basketball aside for now. I have zero regrets about my career choice and am proud to forever be a Nova Nurse. Now, 30 years later I get to work in a school as a nurse and visit classrooms to teach about health. Albeit I am a different kind of teacher, but I am teaching. Both of my career choices have come full circle. I love my job! I have found preschoolers to be sponges and they think of me perhaps as some sort of princess or superhero. I love to create an “Ooooo, ahhhh” effect while teaching to keep their attention. Recently I taught hygiene and handwashing in the classrooms. They were fascinated that the “glitter” germs washed away with soap and water. My students know that I give out stickers. I give out stickers when students visit my office. I have found that stickers bring a smile to a student’s face after an injury or when they are feeling ill. It is also a great distraction from what brought them into my office. It is comforting.
When performing mandatory screenings on preschoolers I need to keep them focused which can be a challenge. They are full of energy. I call blood pressure checks a little arm hug. They are fascinated and watch intently as their arm gets “hugged”. I have found when I take away the scary, they are calmer.
School nursing isn’t always stickers and smiles. It is a multifaceted role that balances time management, skill, quick thinking, and independence while being the sole health care expert in the school. Every morning I put on my imaginary superhero cape and head off to be the best School Nurse that I can be. And soon I will be able to say that I am a Rutgers-Camden Raptor with three new letters next to my name!
Sheila Taney, MSN, RN: Sheila works in a Title 1 public school district in South Jersey and will soon add the title of NJ – Certified School Nurse to her credentials