NISD nurses are a beacon of care and compassion for students and staff

Celebrating National School Nurse Day on May 8

On any NISD campus, one person is always on the move, always ready to lend a helping hand – the campus nurse. With a bright smile and comforting presence, the campus nurse is a beacon of care and compassion for every student and staff member.

National School Nurse Day is May 8 and, on this day, we honor the 160 NISD school nurses (RNs and LVNs) plus 26 clinic assistants who make a difference in students’ lives every day! Often overlooked, their role extends far beyond merely tending to scraped knees and administering medications. They are the unsung heroes of educational institutions, playing a pivotal role in safeguarding the health and well-being of students.

Their list of duties is as vast as the number of students and staff in their charge. They include constant monitoring of the fragile and high needs students such as diabetics and Alternative Learning Environment (ALE) students who might require special medical procedures throughout the day. Duties also include keeping track of immunizations, assessments, medications, and vision, hearing, acanthosis, and scoliosis screenings. 

The school nurses serve as a critical health hub for students and school staff, managing complex conditions, identifying potential mental health issues, and leveling the field in health disparities. 

In moments of crisis, whether it be a sudden asthma attack, an allergic reaction, or a fainting spell, school nurses are the first responders. Their swift action and medical expertise can mean the difference between life and death. Beyond emergencies, they provide essential care for students with chronic conditions, ensuring they can fully participate in academic and extracurricular activities.


Campus nursing is about building relationships and connections

Nurse Erika Haynes at Straus Middle School has 20 years’ experience as a nurse, having worked at both the elementary and middle school levels, as well as in various hospital settings. 

With close to 1,400 students and 120 staff members on campus, Haynes, with the help of her clinical assistant, is constantly on the go. 

But Haynes says that her main duty is developing relationships and maintaining connections with the students and staff on campus, and having open communications with parents.

“I’m a huge advocate for accountability in the sense that if you come into the clinic with a headache, then I’m going to educate you on why they have a headache and what the possibilities of that might be,” she said. “It’s that education piece that is so important.”

“I feel like I’m pretty relatable to the kids so where they may not be comfortable talking to a teacher, they may end up coming to the clinic. For example, I had a couple of students who admitted that they weren’t entirely honest with their teacher when they asked to go to the clinic to talk about something that was bothering them.”

“It’s those kinds of connections and relationship building with the students that is important – especially at the middle school level where they aren’t babies any more but aren’t quite old enough to entirely understand what’s going on with their bodies,” she explained.

Nurse Amanda Lozano has been a nurse for 13 years, four of those years at a high school. She is currently one of two nurses at Sotomayor High School. 

She agrees with Haynes saying she enjoys building relationships with the students and being able to assist them with their medical needs.

“The best part of my job is being able to watch the students grow and mature throughout the years,” Lozano said. 


Nurses in Northside

“There is no typical day for a NISD school nurse,” says Merry Garcia, Director of Health Services for NISD. 

“For instance, doctors may specialize and it takes them years to be a clinical expert on any given subject or body system, but nurses are just expected to know it all – we aren’t “just” nurses – we are moms, counselors, friends, and confidants,” Garcia explains. 

“The longer the nurse is at a campus and the more community rapport that she has built with her campus, the bigger her job becomes because everyone looks to her for the answers when no one else knows what to do.” 

“For instance, a student might enter a classroom with a knot in their shoes or gum in their hair, and they end up sending them to the nurse’s office because they don’t know where else to send them.”

“When we hire our nurses, we look for individuals who can make clinical decisions quickly because we have children’s lives in our hands. The ability to pivot and make decisions with confidence, coupled with compassion, flexibility, and friendliness are qualities we value,” Garcia added.


Thank a nurse

The importance of school nurses cannot be overstated. They are not just healthcare providers; they are educators, advocates, and guardians of student well-being. As we celebrate National School Nurse Day, we salute their tireless dedication and invaluable contributions. The next time you encounter a school nurse, take a moment to express gratitude for their unwavering commitment to the health and happiness of all our students and staff.