COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – It’s back-to-school season but students aren’t the only ones stuffing their backpacks and getting ready for that first day.
Nurses have been working to get ready as well, from sending out immunization requirements to getting their spaces ready. It’s a position that in the past has been hard to fill heading into the school year.
However, one substitute nurse who first got her license around 1980 said it’s a calling. She helps out in Hilliard and said sometimes she gets a call to fill in every day of the week.
“You can serve, you can do something good. And you can, you know, bring a lot of good things to people, whether it’s their mental, spiritual, physical health,” substitute school nurse Diane Ward said.
Going into this school year, officials in Hilliard Schools said: “We are good with nurses and have all returning from last year. We have not had to hire any new ones this year.”
Dublin City Schools are in the same boat saying: “We have 8 district nurses. We did not need to hire any this year.”
Columbus City Schools said it’s also looking good in terms of nursing staff.
“We do have some positions that are open, we’re always looking to hire nurses, but for the start of the school, we’re looking pretty good for what we need to take care of the kids,” CCS Director of Health, Family and Community Services Dr. Carole Sullivan said.
There are around 140 nurses working in the Columbus school district as it kicks off the school year. There are only four positions it’s looking to fill at this time.
These nurses work together with the school health centers. There are now 13 of these student health centers with one opening in April. They work to provide back-to-school physicals and vaccines and they are a resource for new students looking to enroll in the district.
The centers are like primary care clinics. Nurses, on the other hand, are in the schools themselves.
“The role of the school nurse is to take care of the children on a daily basis and kids that take medications daily, treatments daily, those kinds of things, and then make referrals to things for checkups for physicals, for immunizations, any of those required things. It’s a very symbiotic relationship,” Sullivan said.
Columbus does not use substitute nurses.
“We have a pretty large nurse corps that we’re able to send substitutes from within ourselves. And that’s important because those nurses know this district and they know what happens in the district and what you know, our procedures and policies are,” Sullivan said.
Those policies and procedures range from a comforting presence to helping the student get medical attention.
“Sometimes the nurse is the confidant for students, the nurse is sometimes the point of contact for health care,” Sullivan said. “The schools are a community in themselves, and the nurses are an important part of that.”
CCS is also working to make sure all students are up to date on required immunizations. They have been sending information to parents and say anyone with questions should call their school nurse.