Being a school nurse is often an unsung position. It can be taken for granted that if a student has a swollen ankle or a sore throat they can simply be sent to the nurse. But school nurses do so much more than providing ice packs or sending kids home. On a larger scale, they are responsible for the health and safety of an entire student body, consisting of hundreds to even thousands of students. School nurses play a critical role in the well-being of our students, and they deserve to be honored.
This year school districts across the country are celebrating National School Nurse Day on May 9, 2018. Since 1972 the National Association of School Nurses has set aside this particular day to recognize these important individuals and acknowledge how they are impacting their schools and communities.
The Cobb County School District has over 120 school nurses who dedicate their lives to providing quality healthcare for their schools. They work together with school administrators, teachers, counselors, social workers, families, and the community to create healthy learning environments for students. It’s in their mission statement. It’s what they are passionate about.
There are a wide variety of fields that a nurse can go into. There is less glamour and less pay in being a school nurse, but their role is no less important. Tammy Armstrong, the school nurse at Pine Mountain Middle School, previously worked in a telemetry unit for 18 years. The change for her has been very rewarding. “There are times I miss the action of a busy telemetry floor,” says Armstrong, “But the relationships I’ve built with the students and their families keep me here”.
Schools nurses are very much aware of the vital part they play in the lives of their students. “For some students, the school nurse is the only healthcare professional they ever see,” explains Armstrong. Students with chronic and acute health conditions can have their needs met at school. School nurses also train school faculty to understand emergency signs and symptoms. Parents can feel at ease sending their kids to school knowing their child’s health and safety will be professionally cared for.
School nurses are optimizing the health and learning of students every single day, but National School Nurse Day is a particularly special time. For Melanie Bales, the Nursing Supervisor for Cobb County School District, it is “an opportunity to celebrate and recognize the contributions that school nurses are making”.
So how can you celebrate? Bales has a few simple suggestions. First, learn more about what school nurses do so you can fully appreciate all that they do. Second, if you are a student then personally thank your school nurse for taking care of you. And finally, if you have children attending schools then help them make thank you gifts or write thank you cards to their school nurse.
To all our Cobb County school nurses, May 9 is an official recognition of your talents and hard work. But also know that we are grateful every day for your service, dedication, and the difference you are making in our district and the lives of our students.