School Nurses in Florida – Photo Courtesy: PoolSafely
Considered working as a School Nurse? This interview will take you through the ups and downs you can expect in the position, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more.
This is a true career story as told toÂ nursingjobs.net and is one of many interviews with nursing professionals which, among others, include aÂ nursing supervisor, aÂ neonatal registered nurse, and everything in between.
Iâ€™ve been a registered nurse for 32 years now. I worked 25 years in a hospital setting, and the last seven years Iâ€™ve been working as public health nurse in inner-city schools and in a clinical setting giving children free immunizations. I would describe myself as caring, kind, and a good listener.
A Common Misconception
I think itâ€™s a common misconception to think of a school nurse as just someone who gets paid to spend all day putting Band-Aids on kidsâ€™ paper cuts. And while I do spend a little bit of time doing that, in reality thereâ€™s so much more to being a school nurse. There are a lot of social and emotional health issues that I need to incorporate into my interactions with the kids, many of whom just need someone to support them. In emergency situations, sometimes you need to give an EpiPen, call 911, etc.
Pay and Perks
The rate of pay for a public health nurse is low compared to nurses in other settings; it probably ranges from about 35,000 – 50,000. I make about 47,000 and change, but with my current lifestyle, this schedule is what works best. My husband makes enough that I was able to take the cut in pay in order to spend more time with my kids. Plus, I get good insurance benefits. And the vacation time is really nice; we get all the school vacations off, and those 8 or so weeks in the summer is really revitalizing for when you have to go back to work in the fall.
Itâ€™s probably the best job Iâ€™ve had for that reason; I love that I have that long break to relax and get things done and come back refreshed in the fall. I think nursing is a great field. There are so many options that no matter where youâ€™re at in life, you can find work that conforms to your current lifestyle.
In my early years of nursing, I felt that I got sort of consumed by my work – if I had a favorite patient, Iâ€™d go in to see them on my day off and things like that. I used to get so overwhelmed – I felt that there were so many people who needed so much, and I couldnâ€™t possibly find the time to provide them all with what they needed. So Iâ€™d end up feeling drained because there were so many things I wanted to do that I just couldnâ€™t. And now that I have a family, I realize that I have to keep work at work so I can have some balance. I find that physical activity is a very important way for me to free myself up from the emotions of the job.
When I felt that things got really stressful for me in a unit, I had other opportunities. So when I felt drained after being in once place for a while, I simply switched gears and applied at another nursing unit where Iâ€™d be taking care of different kind of patients, and I felt sort of renewed. And now I always have the opportunity to take on a different school, so I know when I get too stressed out in one place, thereâ€™s always somewhere else I can work.
LPN and RN Training
Back in 1977, I attended LPN school for one year and worked as LPN in a hospital setting for ten years. Then I went back to school to become an RN through an accelerated associateâ€™s degree program at a nearby college. If I had to do it over again, Iâ€™d like to go to a four year college and get my bachelorâ€™s degree, or even my masterâ€™s degree to work as an APRN. That opportunity wasnâ€™t around at the height of my career, but there are so many more options now, and thatâ€™s a good one.
When I graduated, the need for nurses was so great that I had no trouble finding work with my associateâ€™s degree, but nowadays anyone going into nursing should have at least a bachelorâ€™s degree. But a masterâ€™s degree really opens so many doors; with a masterâ€™s you have so many more opportunities to have greater job satisfaction.
A Strong and Unique Bond
Whatâ€™s really amazing is the relationship that I’ve formed with those patients under my care long-term. When youâ€™re in the hospital, youâ€™re sick and youâ€™re vulnerable and the person responsible for taking care of you is inevitably going to see a side of you that perhaps no one has ever seen before. Thereâ€™s a certain connection that comes with administering that nursing care – itâ€™s a very strong, very unique bond. Whether Iâ€™m taking care of children or the elderly or anyone in between, I feel that Iâ€™m making a difference in their lives.
Many of the patients Iâ€™ve cared for through the years have written me letters thanking me profusely, and some have even sent me gifts. And the feedback I get – I feel that Iâ€™ve helped them on not only a physical level, but an emotional one too, so itâ€™s very fulfilling; I love knowing that Iâ€™ve really reached a person and made a positive impact on their life.
On a scale of 1-10, Iâ€™d give my job satisfaction an 8. I do enjoy it, though it is sometimes exhausting being around kids all the time, and during school hours I donâ€™t get much of a break – there are students in my office all day. Working Monday through Friday has always been tough since Iâ€™d been used to having three days on and a day off, but it’s nice to have the weekends off.
The one thing Iâ€™ve learned is that you really canâ€™t worry about what the other nurse in the other room is doing – you need to work hard for your patients and yourself, so you come in and take care of your patient in the best possible way. You have to try not to get involved in the gossip and the political arrangement on a nursing unit, because it can really bring you down. So I keep it to just pleasant exchanges with coworkers, and I donâ€™t get too up close and personal; that way I can just enjoy what I do, and do it to the best of my ability.
I think in five years Iâ€™d like to be working in assisted living where the ratio of nurses to patients is good; where I could give good bedside care to those who really need it and give encouragement to the CNAs, get them excited about their jobs. Because I miss taking care of the elderly; I feel that they get sort of thrown out in todayâ€™s society, and they deserve some TLC and kindness in their golden years. I have a lot of compassion towards elderly people, so I definitely would like to work with them again in the future.
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Patricia C has a degree in International Relations and enjoys learning from other cultures and traveling.