School Nurse Helen Yates works as part of a child health team based in South Liverpool that covers one senior school, four primary schools and one enhanced school in that area. In the UK, enhanced schools provide expertise and support for special educational needs.
Do you work in only one school?
No. I’m not based in one school full time, but work closely with a number of schools to ensure that every student’s health needs are addressed early and that each student is able to reach their full potential. My schools include one secondary and three primary schools, spread across Croxteth, Fazakerley and Walton.
How long have you been a School Nurse?
I’ve been working as a School Nurse since October 2012, and before that I was employed as a child health practitioner for a number of years, which was a role which supporting both health visiting and school nursing.
How did you first get into School Nursing?
During my nursing training at Edge Hill, I did a series of different rotational nursing placements and I found that I really enjoyed the community based roles, so I went straight into community health after qualifying.
So what exactly does your role as a School Nurse involve?
I dedicate a lot of time to making and delivering care plans for children with additional health needs who may need extra support during the school day. I have to attend meetings around any safeguarding issues, and also have to document any health issues for each child. There is a lot of record keeping involved in the job too.
Can you describe a typical day?
That depends on the time of year it is. Sometimes I’ll be more involved in delivering lots of hands-on sessions in schools, especially near the start of the Autumn term when I’ll be delivering vaccinations or supporting new intakes.
What do you enjoy most about being a School Nurse?
I love that you’re out and about in the community, where you have opportunities to make a real difference just by offering some friendly information or advice. Often mums and dads will come and see us if they have a concern, for example, around their child’s bedwetting. It’s great because we’re able to reassure them that it’s a fairly common thing, and offer a few tips that can help them turn the situation around. I also have opportunities to support young people by listening and offering advice on a whole range of issues that could be affecting them too – whether that’s about skin problems, sex and relationships, stress at school or home, or issues such as self-harm. It’s great to be able to offer simple health information and advice, which actually helps to prevent ill health, or teaches children and young people how to lead healthier lives right into adulthood.
What are the biggest challenges in being a School Nurse?
Because I’m based across a range of different types of schools, I have to be quite flexible in how I work. I have to be able to work with different age groups and different levels of ability, as well as with children and young people with behavioural difficulties or additional health needs.
How does life as an Australian School Nurse compare? Would you like to share a day in your life as a School Nurse?
How do you go about helping improve the health and wellbeing of students? What’s your biggest challenge? What support do you need to do a better job as a School Nurse?
We’re creating a new feature that recognises and celebrates the good work of School Nurses around Australia. Each month we’d like to interview a dedicated School Nurse.
Ideally the questions and answers will reveal some unexpected insights that will encourage greater communication and benefit other School Nurses.
If you’re interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a quick and easy phone interview.