School Nurses: More Than Just Band-Aids

Schol nurse Lynn Roehrich at Beatrice Gilmore School in Woodland Park gives a daily medication to a student. Credits: Christa Limone

WOODLAND PARK, NJ - In addition to marking Teacher Appreciation Week May 7  to 11, the Woodland Park School District also recognized National Nurses Week. 

The three district nurses - Katie Beatty at Charles Olbon, Lynn Roehrich at Beatrice Gilmore and Terri Carbonelli at Memorial School - were saluted by the staff for their dedication to student health and safety.

There’s a misconception that nurses are just giving out Band-Aids, according to Roehrich. 

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“Lots of students are on medications these days and there are constant changes to those medications that nurses need to be aware of,” she said. 

There is constant communication between parents and school nurses regarding students with chronic illnesses and conditions. And as school nurses are not doctors, they must have a doctor’s order to give any child medications. As she spoke, two students visited the office during prior to their lunch period for daily medication they require.

This time of the year is challenging in schools due to spring allergies, Roehrich added. “We work to be proactive. Not letting children with severe allergies out during recess. A lot of washing hands.” 

In addition to daily duties, the school nurse accompanies each class field trip as well for the safety and welfare of the students. A substitute will stay in the building that day. Having the regular nurse on the trip is important, Roehrich said, as they know the students and their needs well. 

The prevalence of rising rates of ADHA, Autism and food allergies present challenges to nurses to stay on top of all the ever-changing needs of the school population. An important movement by the state is the law that EpiPens now be unlocked and available should a need arise. EpiPens are injectable medication used to treat severe allergic reactions to insect stings, bites and foods. 

In addition to medical skills, a school nurse also needs to be a bit of a psychologist, Roehrich said. "Sometimes its not really a stomachache," she said. "You have to work to get to the root of their issue. Sometimes they just need break."

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