MaryBeth O’Malley is the lead nurse for the Swampscott Public Schools in Massachusetts. MaryBeth oversees 5 school nurses and the treatment of 1,200 students across 5 public schools plus faculty. She has been working as a school nurse for 14 years.
Does the number of student visits per day vary depending on the school size?
The middle school is the largest, with over 750 students, plus it houses preschoolers, and the nurse there sees probably 50 to 70 kids a day. At the high school we average about 30 to 40 a day. Overall, we see a higher volume at the middle school and high school.
Are faculty and staff informed about any medical issues students may have?
Yes. We have to make certain the staff is aware of significant medical problems students have and how to handle them. Medical problems such as seizures or anything that would require an immediate response have to be properly handled.
What health problems are on the rise among students?
Concussions are a big issue and it’s not just a sports problem. Sports does account for a large percentage of concussions but a lot of kids are developing symptoms in many different ways.
Are mental health issues on the rise?
Over the past 10 years, there has been a rise in students with bipolar disorder, depression, attention deficit disorder, schizophrenia and even post-traumatic stress disorder. If you were to talk to most school nurses these days anywhere, they would tell you the biggest increase in issues that students are coming to schools with would be in the area of mental health.
Is managing time a major challenge?
It’s one of the biggest. Because we don’t have any secretarial support, we have to do all of the paperwork on our own, while seeing as many as 70 students or more on a busy day.
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.