School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: A Quick Check-In


The school year is well underway, and with that comes the stressors and pressures from juggling so many competing needs, including our own! Many school nurses are simultaneously taking care of hundreds (or thousands) of students as well as our own families, including multiple generations. When I stop and think about all of the layers of responsibilities on our shoulders, I have to admit, it can be overwhelming! One key may be to find ways to cultivate self-compassion!

Self-compassion is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, particularly for those in demanding professions like school nursing. Our role is vital, but/and it can be emotionally and physically demanding. Practicing self-compassion can help us manage stress, prevent burnout, and improve our overall health and well-being. Here are some strategies to increase our self-compassion:

  1. Mindfulness Practice: Engage in mindfulness activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to help stay present and reduce stress. Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions without judgment.

  2. Self-Care Rituals: Dedicate time for self-care activities that rejuvenate your mind and body. This might include regular exercise, healthy eating habits, getting enough sleep, or pursuing hobbies and activities that bring you joy.

  3. Setting Boundaries: Learn to set healthy boundaries to prevent yourself from overextending and experiencing burnout. It’s essential to prioritize your well-being and not take on more than you can handle.

  4. Positive Self-Talk: Be mindful of the way you speak to yourself. Replace self-criticism with self-compassionate and encouraging language. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer to a friend.

  5. Seeking Support: Don’t hesitate to reach out to colleagues, mentors, or support groups within your profession. Sharing experiences and challenges with others can help create a sense of community and reduce feelings of isolation.

  6. Reflective Practice: Regularly reflect on your experiences and emotions to gain a deeper understanding of how you respond to challenging situations. Journaling can be an effective way to process thoughts and feelings.

  7. Professional Development: Stay updated with the latest research, trends, and best practices in school nursing. Continuous learning can boost confidence and competence, leading to a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in your role.

  8. Celebrate Accomplishments: Acknowledge your achievements, no matter how small. Celebrate your successes and milestones, and recognize the positive impact you have on the students and the school community.

Remember, self-compassion is not a sign of weakness but rather a strength that enables you to provide the best care for others. By prioritizing our own well-being, we can continue to serve our school communities and counter-balance compassion fatigue and burnout.

Here is a link to a recent blog post about the newly published book, Courageous Well-Being for Nurses by Donna Gaffney and Nicole Foster. It is filled with stories, examples, and strategies to support nurses in healing ourselves as we continue to help others.

Healing is forged over time, within each of us, and in community. DG

The Relentless School Nurse: Courageous Well-Being for Nurses – Strategies for Renewal


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