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The Role of the School Nurse

The role of the School Nurse more than anything is varied and daily I am struck by the wide reach of our role, the variability, the unexpected, the joyful and unrelenting nature of the job.

I am often asked what I do all day! Many people think the role of a School Nurse is “just” an endless line of grazed knees. We help manage chronic conditions such as type 1 diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, severe and minor allergies, skin conditions, venous malformations, recurrent infections, concussion… We ensure that medication is administered on time, follow up with medical appointments and prescriptions, assist with vaccinations, perform physical examinations (height and weight checks), help children cope with anxiety, complex family issues, school avoidance, friendship upsets and other pastoral needs. We care for head bumps, sports injuries, playground injuries, classroom injuries and much, much more.

School Nurses work as independent practitioners, using our wealth of experience, knowledge and acute judgement to assess each pupil individually, every time they visit surgery. Never assuming, never prejudging, with a listening ear and a clinical eye. When a child comes through my door, I consider, what do I know about this child? Their medical history; their emotional and social history; correspondence we have (but sometimes haven’t) received from parents. What is going on at home? What day is it? What lesson have they come from, or are just about to go to? What is the weather is like? Are there any friendship difficulties? Is it the beginning of term or nearing the end of a long and exhausting term? I remember minutes from departmental meetings; conversations and emails with form tutors and heads of departments; and so much more. All these little pieces of information help us to understand what the cause of symptoms might be and how best to support them.  We truly offer bespoke care for everyone we see.

Take a simple symptom – “my tummy aches”; there are so many physical and emotional causes, so many interwoven strands to unpick. We go through this process repeatedly, constantly mindful of all the constraints we work under. Maintaining safety; educational needs (lesson time missed); safeguarding; confidentiality; privacy and dignity. We provide care, follow up with parents and clearly document everything we do.

It is an incredible privilege to be a small part of a child’s education journey, to nurture, support and care for their bumps and grazes, tummy aches, upsets and anxieties. Our pupils often pop by to share funny stories with us, tell us about their weekend or magical family holiday. We share in their success and help them dry their tears when things haven’t gone quite the way they’d hoped. There really is no other job like it.

Carly Jacques
Lead School Nurse
Beechwood Park School

Find out more about the role of School Nurses on the NHS website