Backpacks are filled, bus and class schedules are mailed, and students across the country are beginning to feel the tingle of anticipation for the start of a new school year. Outside of the home, school represents the most influential aspect of a child’s life, and for millions of students, the school nurse and therapy service providers are their key point of contact. School nurses, occupational and speech therapists all play a major role in supporting students with needs, acclimate and thrive in the educational environment. These clinicians, although part of a collective, are in positions to make trusting, meaningful connections with the children they are supporting but the result is typically much more.
The Health Room Nurse in any school is usually the “go to” person that students will gravitate towards when they feel the need to talk to someone. The nurse is the one to lend a supportive ear when students are feeling sick, when they are anxious, angry, or depressed. The health room is their safe space to confide in someone when they are facing difficult personal issues, like bullying, teen pregnancy, or physical and emotional abuse. As a nurse, the commitment is to always be prepared to respond with genuine care and dignity for the child and to provide the resources to help them meet life challenges.
The ability to communicate is essential, and whether it is verbal or non-verbal, students need to develop the skills necessary to express themselves. SLP’s are working with their students on all forms of communication skills, from sounding out certain letters or helping them alleviate a stuttering issue. The SLP is in a position to help their students gain confidence in social settings, in addition to helping them improve their learning abilities. A caring SLP will be there with encouragement and support when a student is expressing frustration at being teased or being unable to grasp a particular task.
In a school setting, Occupational Therapists are working with students on a variety of skills to help them succeed in daily activities. In some cases, the OT will be working with students in pairs or small groups, or in 1:1 settings. The relationship dynamics will vary dependent upon the situation. Whether the student’s needs require activity or environmental modifications, assistive technology, or sensory regulation, the OT is helping the student build foundations for success socially and educationally. An important relationship that an OT can’t overlook is with the aide who works directly with the student in the classroom. They are helping to implement and maintain the strategies from the OT for the students, and it is critical that there is regular communication between aide and OT to ensure consistency, gather feedback, and adjust strategies as necessary.
At the end of each school year, these caring, compassionate health care professionals can fill up notebooks full of special stories about their students and the relationships they have cultivated. Meaningful connections with the students they are serving combined with the hard-earned skills they bring to their career results in students who are better equipped to succeed at school, at home, and in the community.
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If you are interested in one of the many school-based opportunities at Supplemental Health Care, contact us today!