Henry Street Blues

SPS School Nurses Collective Bargaining Unit

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Things all successful people do, even without thinking

  1. Trust Yourself: Follow your intuition no matter what others say.
  2. Pursue your Passion: Commit to projects you like and they will fuel you with energy and enthusiasm.
  3. Avoid Negativity: Tell yourself you will make it, no matter how long it takes or how many times you fail along the way.
  4. Acknowledge Accomplishments: Keeping track of you daily victories will remind you of your progress.
  5. Ask for Help: Find people who have done what you are setting out to do and seek their advice.

"Winner's Guide Book" Cynthia Kersey

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"What School Nurses Make" By Dottie Bardon

“The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life…” So the story goes, in a warm-hearted piece entitled “What Teachers Make” [author unknown], frequently circulated among educators. An arrogant CEO puts a teacher on the spot with the condescending question, “what do you make”? Implying, of course, that her low salary signifies a lack of status. The teacher responds with a litany of what she makes: “I make kids wonder…I make them question…I make them read…” And finally, she zings him with the clincher, “I make a difference. What do you make?”

School nurses constantly grapple with this issue, ironically striving to be paid as well as our teaching colleagues. I wish, just once, certain people would ask me this thought-provoking little question: “You’re a school nurse---be honest, what do you make?”

“You want to know what I make?”

I make kids with asthma understand what’s actually going on in their lungs. I make them demonstrate how to use their inhaled medications effectively. I make them measure their own peak expiratory flow and interpret the numbers to determine how well their asthma is controlled and what they should do about it. It’s hard to learn when there’s not enough oxygen getting to your brain.

I make kids with diabetes visualize what’s happening to their metabolism at the cellular level. I make them count carbohydrate grams by reading nutrient labels and calculate their own insulin dose. I make them recognize, and verbalize, the symptoms and treatment of hypo- and hyperglycemia. It’s hard to learn when your body shuts down for lack of glucose.

I make kids with twisted ankles and strained muscles understand how to cope with minor injuries and recognize serous ones. I make them repeat back to me the acronym RICE: standard self-care for most sports-related aches and pains. I make them feel good about their efforts to stay fit and healthy. It’s hard to learn when you are in pain.

I make kids who are truly ill with infections feel better by soothing their sore throats and reducing their fevers. I also make kids aware, often for the very first time, that sometimes it’s really OK to stay at school when you don’t feel perfect. It’s hard to learn when you’re really sick, but also when you are just pouting.

I make kids hurting from grief and fear believe there are adults at school who care about them. It’s hard to learn when you are scared.

I make mental health my business, and I intervene with mental health issues more often than you would ever believe. I make a link between school and psychiatrists, counselors, and physicians. I make hard choices as I weigh the needs of the individual against the safety of my school community. It’s hard to learn when your thoughts are disordered.

I make kids feel informed and confident in dealing with their changing bodies. I make my office a safe-haven for girls with menstrual issues, complete with not just pads and unsoiled clothing, but straight answers to their questions. I make eye contact as I address kids’ underlying fears related to sexual activities. It’s hard to learn when you’re devastated with worry and embarrassment.

I make middle-schoolers feel competent and comfortable in handling broken braces on their teeth, torn contact lenses in their eyes, and infected jewelry in their body piercings. It’s hard to learn when your teeth throb, your eyes burn, or your belly button is draining pus.

I make sure my students can see and hear, by routinely evaluating their vision and hearing. It’s really hard to learn if you can’t see the board or hear the teacher.

I make referrals, I make phone calls, I make connections to people and agencies that provide healthcare, glasses, and dental care to families in need. It’s hard to be a good parent when you feel hopeless.

I make assessments every time a child walks through my door. Simple or serious? I make the call—is this headache an emerging sign of deadly meningitis, miserable chronic migraines, or simply algebra-avoidance? Chronic disease or adolescent drama? I make dozens of decisions every day, and I make them alone, without another healthcare professional to back me up. I make them knowing that no one in my school really understands the complexity of my nursing assessment, the hundred observations and clinical judgments that are taking place each time I care for an ill or injured child.

I make teachers and administrators feel at ease, because I’m here to deal with the daily blood and guts as well as the occasional life-threatening emergency. I make the effort to educate educators about our students’ health problems and medications, and what the can—and can’t—do to help.

I make contact with counselors throughout the school day. I make professional collaboration a reality, not just wishful thinking, because we can do more for kids together than either of us can accomplish alone.

I make phone calls to more parents in a single day than many teachers make in a week. I make an impression of this district with every call. I make a few of them unhappy, because they really don’t want to be bothered. But most of the time, I make things right, because most parents are grateful for the professional care I give.

I make do with limited supplies, crowded space and a lack of privacy. I make the best of a computer system that does not work right for healthcare. I make peace with compromising my professional standards regarding the confidentiality and legality of my documentation. I make the best of things, because I really want to be here.

I make time for professional development and continuing education, even though the district doesn’t recognize this or adequately reimburse me for my time and expenses.

I make my school, my students, and my colleagues safer, healthier, and more comfortable than they would be without a school nurse. I make it easier for teachers to teach, counselors to counsel, and administrators to lead our school. I make it possible for kids to learn.

And for this, in public education, a world run by educators who continually bemoan the lack of respect their low salaries reflect in the eyes of our society, I am paid far less than what my nursing skills, experience, and education are worth in any other practice setting. My worth to this district, with my BSN and 20+ years of nursing experience, is 68% of the salary of an entry-level teacher, fresh out of college. What I’m paid, is embarrassing to admit. But you want to know what I make? I make a conscious decision to practice nursing in a school setting. I know I make a difference, too.

Bardon, D. (2006). What School Nurses Make. MASNewsletter, 19 (2), 4-5.

In the Spotlight- Connie Caudle

Connie is the National Board Certification of School Nursing Representative for Missouri. Connie works at Pipkin Middle School and has been with Springfield Public Schools since August of 1998, but has been a nurse for 24 years. Pipkin is a very diverse school with the majority being under-privileged.

When she was in the 1st grade, she had to write a paper about what they wanted when they grew up. Weeks before that she had been in the hospital and thought if she could make a difference like the nurses in the hospital did, that is what she would want to be. During her childhood her grandmother ran a nursing home and Connie spent much time there. This only solidified her desire to help others. She received her BSN in 1996 and a degree in Gerontology in 2014. She has volunteered for numerous organizations which include, Show-Me Response Team, Boy Scouts of America, Suit Yourself Boutique, Ronald McDonald House Charities, St. Louis Haven House and the American Cancer Society. She traveled to Joplin to help after the devastating tornado. She has also assisted with the CDC in outbreaks of Meningitis and epidemiology.

There have been many changes in school nursing since she began her career. "No longer is school nursing band-aids and ice packs. School is now in part a health provider."

Being the NCSN State Representative has allowed her opportunities across the state to connect nurses with other "study and test partners" near them. Being NCSN certified not only provides a $3000 stipend in Springfield Public Schools but gives recognition for expertise and knowledge in the specialized practice of school nursing.

If you are interested in becoming certified you may contact Connie with your questions.

You can also find information about requirements and testing locations at the link below.