Jennifer Tuttle is the School Nurse at North Newton and ACT/South Newton Elementary Schools in North Carolina. For more than 12 years, Jennifer has been providing care to students and staff members. She’s proof that school nursing is just as demanding as other nursing environments.
Thinking back to when you started 12 years ago, is being a school nurse what you expected?
I didn’t know a lot about school nursing when I started, as there weren’t that many school nurses in this area. I was the very last interview for the job and was fortunate to be offered this incredible opportunity. My eyes were widely opened when I came in — it’s nothing like the perception.
Have your duties changed since you began your career?
Most definitely! The school nurse title has often been synonymous with basic caring duties such as Band-Aid-givers, temperature-takers and first aid experts; this is certainly not the case today. A lot of health conditions you did not see in schools years ago, we have now. For example, I have students who are in remission from cancer and students who are actively going through chemotherapy for cancer. Those students are in the classroom, continuing their education, which I believe is so important.
What are some of the more challenging conditions your students have suffered from?
Over the years, I have provided care for blind students, students suffering from diabetes and seizures and sadly students with cancer as I’ve already touched on.
What would an average day look like for you?
This is always a tough question, when someone asks us what we do everyday, it’s hard to remember everything that we are trained and ready for. We are like a floating clinic on wheels, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Could you share a story about how you’ve gone out of your way to help a student in need?
There is one student who has a seizure disorder and occasionally wets her pants. Unfortunately, the child’s parents aren’t always able to afford pull-ups for their child so I reached out to the school district for any funds to provide these types of things. I also went out and purchased my own to make sure we had some readily available – just in case!
Are their alternative methods you can reach out to, to help with funding?
One way I provide students and families with resources, like glasses and dental assistance, is through the Kids In Need (KIN) Fund. A lot of our kids don’t have insurance and or qualify for Medicaid, or the parents have recently lost their jobs. If we can’t get funding, we find another way to get the students what they need. If they can’t see, then they aren’t going to do well in school. It’s important to the children’s education that we try to give them the tools they need to succeed.
After 12 years in the industry, you must know a lot about public health. Do you feel that it’s important to share your knowledge with parents at school?
Public Health is all about promotion and education, which are two of my huge passions. I love the fact that I get to go into the classrooms everyday and talk to families that come into the office, teach them health promotion and find them resources.
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?
At Student First Aid we recognise and celebrate the good work of School Nurses. Each month we interview a dedicated School Nurse.
If you’re interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a quick and easy phone interview.