Saturday, August 30, 2014

Teen Land 24/7 to I Celebrate the Crazy

Post by Roxanne Schmertmann, MSN ARNP. Roxanne is in her 13th year working as a school nurse, the last 8 with the Bettendorf School District. You can follow her on Twitter @pviafan

When I became a school nurse in the fall of 2000, I did it for a couple reasons:  my son who was 9 and my daughter who was 6.  With both of my kids in school, I wanted a family-friendly schedule.  Since I was only working part time in labor and delivery and i enjoyed volunteering at school, I started subbing and fell in love with the job.  When I first became a school nurse, I had my associate degree in nursing.  Quickly realizing that this was something I loved, I went on to receive my bachelor's degree at the University of Iowa and then my master's in nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago, becoming an ARNP in women's health.  All the while either working as a school nurse or subbing.

Since my "official" start as a school nurse I worked with elementary students taking care of scraped knees, tummy aches from eating lunch too quickly to get out to recess, ice packs from bumping heads with another student while running in the gym, dizzy from spinning on the equipment at recess, drying tears because of hurt feelings, giving hugs when they did well on a project or didn't do to well on a project, giving health advice, encouraging them to drink more water and listening to many "stories" about what was happening in their lives at home.  When the opportunity to come to the high school came up two years ago, I thought maybe a change would be good..... But was it really a change????

High School students have a lot of the same needs only in bigger bodies....  They scrape their knees from riding their skateboards to school, stomach aches from not eating breakfast, ice packs for sore joints from sports or the weekends activities, drying tears because of hurt feelings, giving hugs for a job well done or a job not so well done.  Give them health advice, encourage them to drink more water and listening to many stories of what is going on in their lives that brought them into my office. 

My last 2 years at the high school have been great.  My daughter attended "the other" Bettendorf school and I would joke with my friends that I lived in "Teen Land" 24/7 - teens during the day and then my teenage high school daughter at night.  I have enjoyed the hustle and bustle of events and excitement that accompany the high school years.  I also have an understanding of the pressures, the schedules, and the occasional heartbreak that happens during this time.  These priceless experiences have only helped me to grow as a high school nurse. 

I have tried to teach my own children certain lessons during their high school time.  The importance of breakfast everyday, if you were to ask them today they would say "Yeah we know.... it TRULY is the most important meal of the day" and "how can we learn if we have no fuel".  The importance of getting a good night rest.  One needs to go to bed at a good time so the body can repair itself and be sharp for the next day.  Be organized, they are all very busy with homework , clubs or athletics, and some have jobs. Being "prepared" for the day ahead usually equates to less stress.  Be a good friend, don't be part of gossip, listen and be a positive force in their lives. And finally just do your best as that is all anyone can ask of you...... 

This year my youngest went off to college and I can truly say that I miss the "crazy" at home.  I celebrate coming to my job everyday and getting to fix scrapes,  take care of stomach aches from no breakfast, give ice packs, dry tears, give hugs, share health advice, encourage them to drink more water, and listen to their stories.  I might not live in teen land 24/7 now but I now "Celebrate" these crazy teenage years with 1500 teens at BHS everyday. 

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