Sandra Berquist is the School Nurse at Davis Hill Elementary School in Holden, a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts. Sandra is also director for the 14 nurses in the Wachusett Regional School District.
What’s the primary goal of a School Nurse?
Really it’s about maximising the time spent on learning for children. Keeping them healthy and in the classroom is what really counts. Today there are more serious medical issues than a decade ago.
How wide is the spectrum of student medical needs today?
We have students with tracheal tubes, heart conditions and seizure disorders. Diabetes, where young patients have insulin pumps or come daily to the nurse’s office for insulin, is also common. There are even students with colostomies and tube feedings, or who suffer from Crohn’s Disease and colitis.
Severe food allergies that demand immediate treatment with an EpiPen are also more common than they used to be. Some of the kids carry their EpiPens with them. School Nurses are also responsible for training school staff to use epi-pens on students undergoing a severe allergic reaction.
How many students do you see a day?
About 30 children a day at Davis Elementary School where the enrollment is about 500 students. In total, district School Nurses handled about 45,000 health visits last year, a figure that doesn’t include vision, hearing and postural screenings. Last year alone, district School Nurses handed out over 25,000 medications. These can be for attention deficit or anti-psychotic medications, diabetes or just pain relief. The School Nurse will also monitor side effects.
Do you like being a School Nurse?
I used to be a paediatric nurse but I’m happy with the change I made to school nursing almost a decade ago. I absolutely love it. I wish I had found this a long time ago.
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.