My first semester as a school nurse comes to an end today, and I’m ending it sick, exhausted, and optimistic. It’s been a real shock to work with the clientele that I do, a population drastically different than anything I encountered growing up. Unlike the nurse on the good side of town, who laments to me the way parents detail the differences between tree nuts and peanuts to her, I have been yelled at for interrupting someone’s day when I call home at 10 a.m. to find out the severity of a nut allergy listed on an emergency card. I have mailed home over 50 hearing and vision referrals and have only received follow-up evaluation notice once. More come back as a “return to sender” because they’re no longer on the address listed on the emergency card (that was just filled out in August) than that. So few come back that I finally stopped keeping a list of what I’d mailed out; it’s too depressing. I’ve learned I’m expected to know everything, and I’ve learned it’s not the end of the world when I don’t.
Most of all, it’s about the kids. I love, love, love (most of) these kids. They recognize me, they know my day at their school, and, most importantly, they trust me. The cot conversations I’ve had with some of these kids while waiting to be picked up have left me speechless. It’s amazing what they will reveal when they know they’re safe. I can honestly say I will miss them over break, and I feel very lucky to have a job that I will miss when I go on vacation.
Next semester I am signed up for a vision workshop, so I can actually know what I’m doing during vision screenings besides just pointing to letters and writing down the corresponding numbers, and after months of asking politely, I’ve been approved to take a four unit audiometry course. That means I’m worth $600 outside of my regular salary to the district – hooray! And, very soon upon return from the break, I’m talking to the 6th grade AVID class about how I came to be where I am today. Turns out AVID is the class for kids who have potential but probably won’t reach that potential without an extra boost. They have mentors and guest speakers all the time, so I’m one of many, but I’ve never been a guest speaker for anyone!
However… as much as I am enjoying things here and now… I am very much looking forward to having the next three weeks off! Happy holidays.