Since the late 1800’s, nurses have worked in school settings. From the earliest days, their primary responsibility was inspecting and identifying students with communicable diseases, however, over the last century that role has changed dramatically. Today, there are more than just nurses providing care in our nation’s schools. In addition to the school nurse, services are also provided by Physical and Occupational Therapists, and Speech / Language Pathologists, among others. Healthcare professionals are drawn to working in the school setting. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why working in a school is so appealing.
Any discussion of why working in a school setting is so great must begin with the schedule! Most school systems are operating on a nine-month annual schedule, and for the most part, school nurses and therapist have the opportunity to mirror the education schedule. Some may be required to cover for summer school sessions and longer breaks, but most will have their summers off. This long summer vacation may not always be the case as many schools are debating the benefits of adopting a longer school year, as in Europe and the rest of the industrialized world. Another schedule-related benefit for those with school age children is being on the same schedule with them.
Another attraction to working in a school environment is the work environment. Nurses and Therapists typically enjoy the fact that working in a school is far less stressful than working in other care settings. Nurses enjoy the benefits of being in charge of their own office and also being looked up to by the students in their care. Often, the trusted school nurse has to take off the nursing hat and turn into a counselor to provide a listening ear, comfort, and advice to students facing difficult situations at school or in their home life.
Nurses and therapists in the school setting also play a role in student development by working with the education team in identifying developmentally appropriate learning standards. The healthcare professionals in schools are valued members of the team and provide critical expertise as a resource to help improve learning and also provide access to additional counseling and health care services. The reward is much the same as that of an educator and relishing the pride that comes from watching your students grow and learn and knowing you had an impact on their lives.
Community involvement is another way that school nurses and therapists benefit from their career choice. Being a trusted resource, not only for students, but also parents, administrators, and even local leaders places greater emphasis on their value to the community. There are many relationships that are developed between the nurse/therapist, the students, and their families. Meaningful interactions often become close relationships, especially with the families of students with special needs. Often, it is the healthcare professionals within the school district that help the parents of these students become aware of, and gain access to additional services and facilities that can provide additional care and resources for the family.
As the month of August rolls on towards the beginning of a new school year, it is an appropriate time to send a shout out to all of the men and women who will soon be providing care and therapy services to millions of school-age students around the country. Summer break is over, and it is back to work time for all who choose a school as their work setting. Here is wishing all of you another exciting and fulfilling school year. Help us out by sharing your story in the comment section below, or tell us how you feel about working in the schools by leaving us a message on our Facebook page.