Amy Widderich is the school nurse at Grove Park Elementary School in Burlington, North Carolina. Her days are filled with constant care; taking temperatures, walking queasy students from classrooms and helping others deal with anxiety.
How do you start your day?
I get to school early so I can catch up on my emails, check for faxes, get myself organised and greet the kids. I have a couple of students who come in and take daily meds, and then the flow of kids off the bus starts.
How many schools do you look after?
Grove Park is the only school I am currently responsible for. Working with one school allows me to really dig in, get to know students and staff, teach prevention activities, monitor illnesses, administer medications and so much more.
What problems could arise if you were working between two schools?
When I was at a school for only half of my day, I spent a lot of the time putting out fires. When you’re dealing with students who have chronic health conditions that require medication, you need to ensure the people who are taking care of them know how to do it safely.
What kind of training do you provide to the kids with chronic health conditions?
One of the chronic health conditions I help to manage is asthma. I train the children to use their inhalers more effectively, while also monitoring whether their inhalers are working correctly.
What difficulties can children have with inhalers?
One of the students I was looking after had difficulties with wheezing. I spent a lot of time making sure that he could use the inhaler correctly and ensuring he was using the proper technique. One day I had to call his mum and say, ‘He’s really not improving with his inhaler and you need to make a follow-up appointment.’ In the end the child ended up with a steroid inhaler, which gave him longer-term control of his disease, rather than relying on a “rescue” inhaler.
Your work as a School Nurse is quite diverse, what does a normal day look like for you?
A normal day could be anything from looking after tummy aches, evaluating a student’s psychiatric medicine or supervising a child with autism.
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?
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