School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: Reframing Our Perspective for a New School Year

A highly regarded colleague sent me a message about my blog post from July 29, 2023 – The Relentless School Nurse: How School Nurses Can Help Ourselves to Stay. She wrote about how nursing tends to have a victim mentality, and as she aptly wrote: “It is hurting us.” My friend went on to say, “Thanks for taking it on.”  I appreciate reflections in response to my blog posts. It helps me identify what is resonating with readers and explore new content for future posts. I am taking on the topic in this perspective piece because it is imperative that we reframe our position from often feeling like a victim with no say or control, to a new perspective in time for a new school year. This aligns with recent discussions about the importance of having clear boundaries!

Here’s how school nurses can work on ending our own victim mentality in the context of  our role. These are initial thoughts, look for future posts that delve deeper into the recommendations:

  1. Reflect on Interactions: Take time to reflect on your interactions with students, parents, and colleagues. Identify instances where you may have felt like a victim and explore the underlying triggers. 

  2. Focus on Empowerment: Shift your mindset from feeling helpless to embracing your role as a proactive advocate for student health and well-being. Recognize the impact you can have on creating a positive and nurturing environment.

  3. Own Your Expertise: Embrace your expertise as a school nurse and the valuable role you play in the educational community. Confidence in your knowledge and skills can help counteract feelings of victimization.

  4. Challenge Negative Narratives: Pay attention to the narratives you tell yourself about your role. Challenge any negative self-talk that undermines your confidence and replace it with positive affirmations.

  5. Celebrate Successes: Acknowledge your achievements and positive outcomes. Celebrate the times when you’ve made a difference in a student’s life or effectively collaborated with others.

  6. Set Professional Goals: Establish clear professional goals for your role as a school nurse. Working towards these goals can give you a sense of purpose and direction, reducing feelings of powerlessness.

  7. Advocate for Resources: If you feel unsupported or lack necessary resources, proactively communicate your needs to school administrators and stakeholders. Advocate for the tools and support you require to excel in your role. Speaking at board of education meetings, providing data and stories to educate the board members about your request can be impactful. If we don’t ask, the answer is always no. 

  8. Prioritize Self-Care: Engage in regular self-care practices to maintain your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. When you prioritize yourself, you are better equipped to approach challenges with resilience.

  9. Build Collaborative Relationships: Strengthen your relationships with teachers, parents, and healthcare professionals. Collaborative efforts can create a support network that counters any isolating feelings. Be present in your building, do early morning rounds to visit students and staff. We can avoid many unnecessary office visits by being available as school is starting, especially to our classes that typically have the most office visits!

  10. Use Adversity as Growth: View challenging situations as opportunities for growth and learning. Each obstacle you overcome can enhance your skills and contribute to your professional development. COVID was our biggest adversity in my decades of practice and it certainly brought tremendous adversity as well as “post traumatic growth.

  11. Seek Professional Development: Continuously seek opportunities for professional development and skill enhancement. Acquiring new knowledge and strategies can boost your confidence and sense of empowerment. Why not request that your school district support your membership to NASN? 

  12. Communicate Effectively: Develop assertive communication skills to express your needs, boundaries, and ideas. Effective communication can help you navigate challenges more confidently. 

  13. Limit Negative Influences: Be mindful of negative influences that may contribute to feelings of victimization. Surround yourself with supportive colleagues and engage in positive conversations.

  14. Celebrate Student Progress: Focus on the positive impact you have on students’ lives. Celebrate their successes and growth, and recognize your role in fostering a healthy and thriving school community.

By implementing these strategies within the context of school nursing, we can gradually shift away from a victim mentality and cultivate a mindset of empowerment, proactivity, and positive impact on the well-being of students, the school community, and ourselves! 

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