Commentary: Caring hearts work in the school system

Commentary: Caring hearts work in the school system
August 18
07:15 2016



The Winston Salem/Forsyth County Schools system has 81 schools; five of these schools are specifically designed around an Exceptional Children’s (EC) Program.

Each EC school has a health team consisting of a full-time nurse employed by the Forsyth County Department of Public Health and contracted to work in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools through their EC Department.

Nurses working in only one school have the advantage of getting to know their students and the students’ specific behaviors. Not all students communicate the same way that most of the population is accustomed. When dealing with EC students, no matter the child’s needs, knowing his or her typical behaviors is beneficial when something is not right.

The daily schedule of a school nurse at an EC school is routinely not the same as at a traditional school.

Many of our school days must accommodate seeing children that need our direct attention. This could be due to an illness or injury.  Nonetheless, it is not always an easy task letting a parent know that their child is ill or has sustained an injury.  Some days there are children who need to be transported by EMS or those who may need extra attention because they are not acting their “normal” self.

Our daily agenda may start with helping to handle a communicable disease outbreak and end with training teachers on new orders or procedures.  Our days may also consist of checking immunizations, along with giving daily medications and taking care of procedures such as a tube feeding.  The list is endless for what may occur during the day for a school nurse.

The EC school health team handles these cases daily with a smile, we love what we do, and the children involved. The joy of seeing our students shine and succeed at school fills our hearts.

It is important to us to keep our students healthy and at school every day. It can be vital to their health when we notice a small difference.  It could be the one small key item to saving their life by acting on it. Many of the EC students’ parents develop a bond with their children’s school nurse and depend on us to care for their child because they cannot be with them during the school day.

We all work as a team with the school staff and the student’s family to make each student’s school year is successful and the best it can be.

Caren Jenkins, BSN, RN, NCSN, is school health supervisor with the Forsyth County Department of Public Health.

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