The role and responsibility of a school nurse keeps changing from year to year. Thanks to this, it is even more important to have a checklist of items to complete during the first weeks of the new school year. Being organized with a must do list will help when a potentially emergent situation crops up and you have to be flexible.
Starting Your Must-Do List
Each year will be different, but some items will always take precedence when heading back to school. As the school nurse, it is important to look over the records of all students within buildings which you work in. You must be familiar with those who have special needs, chronic conditions, or something similar. Make sure to file papers and medication as they come in from homes. Work on a schedule for giving any children daily medications what they need at a specific time. Prepare a location for medications to be locked up with all of the paperwork should they be needed. Be aware of any changes in state laws about what school nurses may or may not dispense without a prescription from a doctor.
States require schools to keep track of immunization records of students. Take time to know what vaccines are required in your state by which age. Audit the files and make sure everything is up to date. Make a schedule to do this by grade level and follow up with families. In addition to this, work on a schedule to do health screenings with each student. It may be best to go grade by grade in elementary schools, but by homeroom in middle and high school. This is the time to check vision and other things which may impact academics.
Beyond the School Day
Beyond the mandatory things that need to be done at the start of the year, there are other important tasks which need to be completed. There are many more students who suffer from school anxiety. These students often come to the school nurse with headaches and stomachaches. It’s the perfect time to reach out to them about things working out. Remind them that you are a safe person who can listen and be trusted when they need to talk about worries.
Dealing with sick students is part of the job as a school nurse. Along with this, it’s good to work on reminders that will help germs and viruses from spreading. Work with teachers to talk to students about proper hand washing and hygiene. Continue the conversation to families to remind them about how this can keep them healthy. When sending communication home, it’s also the perfect time to remind them about when to send a child to school and when they are sick and should stay home.
What’s on your must-do list for the first weeks of school? Please share in the comments below how you work on this from year to year. Be sure to include what has and has not worked from your experience.