Spring 2010 - Vol V Issue
Nursing Students Fill Critical Role in Mission District Catholic Schools
Four nursing students—all of them registered nurses working toward master’s degrees—are filling vital roles this semester by serving as school nurses at seven Catholic elementary schools in San Francisco’s Mission district. Without these USF students, the schools would have no nurse available to their students.
“We don’t have the budget or the funding to afford to have nurses at any of the schools,” said Richard Lee, business manager of the Alliance of Mission District Catholic Schools. “This partnership has been quite a Godsend.”
The partnership, which began two years ago, has nursing students visiting their assigned schools once a week as the main component of the course. Because all students in the course are already licensed RNs, they do not require on-site supervision. That maximizes the time students can spend at the schools and the impact they can have.
Although the specifics of what each student does varies according to school needs, there have been some commonalities. The nursing students are doing “everything from reviewing immunization records to make sure those are updated to providing hands-on patient care, taking care of bumps and bruises,” said Kimberleigh Cox, School of Nursing instructor, psychiatric clinical nurse specialist, and student in the school’s doctor of nursing practice program.
Some, like Jennifer Heisleman, have also been asked to put together presentations on various health-related topics. For Heisleman, an IV therapist, that has meant developing presentations—tailored to the grade level of her audience—on germs and the immune system and making healthy eating choices.
Heisleman has also vision screened all the students at the two schools she works at (the last time either school had a vision screening done was at least six years ago), as well as reviewed the immunization records at both schools. Without a nurse on staff, the schools were relying upon the office staff to periodically review the records to make sure everyone was up to date. The result, however, was that this important task was not getting done since the records are full of medical acronyms that don’t instinctively make sense, Heisleman said. Since completing the comprehensive review, Heisleman has trained office staff members on how to properly review the records and she has set up a process to ensure the reviews are completed.
Heisleman has some pediatric nursing experience—she has worked in oncology with both adult and pediatric patients—but most of the USF students do not. Yet like the others, she has experienced the joy that comes with working with a younger population, one that gets truly excited to hear there’s a nurse at the school. The class has also provided the nursing students with the opportunity to have an impact on people’s lives they don’t often get, even as nurses.
“In this instance, it’s kind of a chance to hit a population that’s totally underserved and there’s absolutely no funding for otherwise. That’s really rewarding,” Heisleman said.
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