Tag Archives: School nursing

Raise Your Hand When You Hear The Beep!

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This student happens to be my son ūüôā

Today was a big day. ¬†Mass vision and hearing screenings for hundreds of students at our school. ¬†The State of Texas mandates that all Kindergarten, 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade students be screened for vision and hearing each Fall. ¬†Pulling this off takes planning and lots of help. ¬†The “Vision and Hearing Team” in our school district consists of TWO nurses. ¬†That’s right, two – for over 100 schools. ¬†This “team” comes on their scheduled day to help the school nurse (me) screen hundreds of children. ¬†I enlisted two additional helpers who volunteered their time out of the kindness of their hearts: ¬†first my mother, a retired school nurse in our school district, and second her good friend, also a retired school nurse! ¬†In the photo above, my mom is screening my son aka her grandson – how awesome is that!? ¬†I also had the help of two amazing parents at our incredible school. ¬†They volunteered their day to call classrooms, wrangle and shush kids, transcribe results, and direct traffic in the library.

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400 Slips for Test Results

I went through the planning phase several days before, with all that prep culminating in a workable schedule for today. ¬†Students aren’t just sitting in their homeroom class all day long – they are going places! ¬†When I planned screening times for each grade level, I had to look at various schedules and AVOID screening during: ¬†Recess, Lunch, PE, Art, Music, Computers, and nap time (for the little ones). ¬†Whew!

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A class filing in

Class by class, students were herded in and given instructions.

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The Snellen “Tumbling E” eye chart

Many of us probably remember having our vision tested as kids. ¬†This chart has been around for over 150 years. ¬†The kids are instructed to point in the direction the “legs” of the E are pointing. ¬†They don’t have to know left from right, E from M or W, and it doesn’t require any talking – only pointing. ¬†Even 4-year-olds can do it.

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My audiometer (a relic).

You also probably all remember the hearing test. ¬†This audiometer is a dinosaur. ¬†There are updated versions – digital ones also that the team brought with them, but this is my district-issued machine. ¬†I am actually quite fond of it. ¬†The students are instructed to “Raise your hand when you hear the beep” and it’s a very simple test. ¬†Some obstacles to this test are: ¬†any noise in the room (hmmm it’s not challenging at all to keep dozens of children quiet when they’re standing in line with nothing to do…); cold symptoms like a stuffy nose – this causes fluid to back up into the ears and they have temporary hearing loss; girls with hairbands, bows, earrings, and glasses (I had a few students wearing all of these things at once) – the headphones won’t fit snug on their heads or will actually hurt.

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Me!

I’m happy to say that this massive undertaking was a success – thanks to all the help I had. ¬†Speaking of help, the office staff had to “play nurse” all day because I was unavailable. ¬†They rose to the challenge of taking care of 48 students who were sent to the clinic today for things like possible pinkeye, a punch to the nose, breathing trouble, groin pain among many other. ¬†They told me they don’t know how I do it every day. ¬†I know they already appreciate me so much, but it’s days like these that it becomes clear what a “team effort” really is.

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On My Mind

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Being a nurse is always challenging, but some days it can be a little much emotionally. Today was one of those days. ¬†And I find myself reminiscing about certain children I’ve cared for in the past.

Ever since I was a brand new nurse 13 years ago, I’ve always worked with kids. ¬†Some kids stay on my mind for the whole day or night – some for always.

  • I’ll never forget my 8-year-old patient on the pediatric hematology/oncology floor. ¬†I was a brand new nurse working the night shift. ¬†He had been diagnosed with cancer in his home country and traveled with his mom to the states for treatment. ¬†He contracted a horrible fungal infection along the way. ¬†His mom worked nights and he didn’t speak English, so I was assigned to him. ¬†Nevermind that I was brand-spanking-new and he had multiple drips and meds and I was overwhelmed. ¬†I managed fine. ¬†He had a glowing smile, and he sometimes would join us at the nurses station and drink a cup of coffee with us! ¬†Last I heard he was doing well, but that was years ago.
  • Even though it was brief, I won’t forget the baby who died in the emergency room. ¬†I was working the night EMS transported a 1-year-old baby to us. ¬†The nurses who had been working there for awhile knew of this baby. ¬†He had a chronic congenital condition called hydrocephalus and was not expected to have a long life. ¬†He was a DNR – Do Not Resuscitate – patient. ¬†That meant the healthcare team could only provide specific treatments laid out in the plan. ¬†That included oxygen and epinephrine/atropine. ¬†The baby died right there in front of us. ¬†We gave the baby to his mom and gave them privacy so she could say goodbye. ¬†In the meantime, I contacted the Organ and Tissue Center and made a sad discovery – this baby didn’t even weigh enough to donate his organs, even though the mom was willing. ¬†It was heartbreaking. ¬†And I had to go on about my shift, taking care of ear infections and demanding patients, and I wanted to yell at them “There’s a dead baby in Bed 6!” It was a nightmare that I didn’t want to experience again. ¬†I didn’t last long in that ER.
  • When I worked at a different school several years ago, one of our students was taken away on a stretcher by EMS because he practically rolled off the bus, disoriented, saying “My dad gave me a white pill.” ¬†He was physically ok, but I wonder what his life has been like.
  • When I worked in a pediatrician’s office, we took care of a newborn who was in foster care. ¬†She had a birth defect called partial anencephaly – her brain didn’t properly form and she was only born with primitive brain stem function. ¬†She was a beautiful little baby, and her instinct to suck kept her alive for a short time, taking a bottle from her foster mom. ¬†I couldn’t get over how “normal” she looked from the outside. ¬†The doctor I worked with said “It’s so sad that she won’t develop past this point.” ¬†I wonder how long she lived.

I’ve done this long enough to know: ¬†Today’s experiences may fade away. ¬†We have so many encounters with so many patients as nurses, that it is impossible to remember them all. ¬†Today I was told one of our students had major emergency surgery and we will wait to see how the child’s functioning will be affected. ¬†Another student suffered a traumatic hand injury at the end of the school day – I sent him off after some quick first aid to be taken care of. ¬†These two will stay on my mind for awhile. ¬†Even when I feel my brain and heart have reached their maximum capacity for caring and concern, life goes on and kids get sick and hurt. ¬†And I will stand with other nurses, ready to receive and bound to remember, at least for a time.

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