|Getting to know ... a school nurse|
|Friday, October 18, 2013 12:15 AM|
BY STEPHANIE GROVES
“The goal of any school nurse is to strengthen and facilitate the educational process by improving and protecting the health status of children,” Ricker explained. “The major focus of school nursing services is the prevention of illness and disability and the early detection and correction of health problems.”
Ricker said the beginning of the school year is always the busiest time of the year when immunization compliance, care plans, state reporting, head lice checks and vision/hearing screenings — some of the most important duties — need to be fulfilled.
The district has many students on individualized educational plans (IEPs) — for kids with delayed skills or other disabilities — which require health assessments and screenings within a state-mandated time frame. January through May involves scoliosis screenings, Mini Relay planning, more vision and hearing screenings, growth and development classes and dental and hygiene education.
Throughout the entire school year, Ricker’s work involves maintaining and updating cumulative health records, assessing acute and chronic health concerns with children, referrals to community health resources, preparing and budgeting for school health supplies, implementing the school medication policy and procedures, health counseling, meetings with staff and families and lots of documentation.
Health findings which are cause for concern are followed up with a parent through phone calls or mailings. Referrals to community health resources for intervention may be initiated if the family requests or are unable to afford healthcare services.
“For example, the Delphos Kiwanis assists the schools by providing funds for vision care and glasses if there is an established need,” Ricker detailed. “There is an application and approval process.”
Ricker explained the health department is also a great resource for families and school nurses. The Bureau Center for Children with Medical Handicaps can be a very helpful community resource to aid children medically and financially with medical disabilities.
“One thing that was always stressed during my nursing school days was, if it was not documented, it wasn’t done,” Ricker stated. “So, unfortunately, nursing interaction with students is often limited due to the documentation requirements.”
They include state reporting and mandates, as well as medication administration and nursing care.
“This is the least favorite part of my job but a necessity,” she added.
Participating in the IEP process by taking part in the child education evaluation team is another duty of a school nurse, as well as planning and implementing health management protocols and policies. For example, the school’s Wellness and Nutrition Plan and head lice and bed bug policies.
One of the most important aspects of Ricker’s job is serving as a resource person to the students, parents, school staff and administration in providing primary and preventative care through assessment, treatment, education and referral.
“I am serving as a liaison person between the home, school and community,” Ricker explained. “It is very important for me to keep in tune with the current research and health statistics to better my school nursing practice.”
Ricker keeps up to date through continuing education and attending community health seminars, local hospital educational programs and yearly health department meetings.
Ricker has been employed at Delphos City Schools for more than 13 years and worked in Acute/Intensive Care Nursing four years prior. She graduated from St. John’s in 1992 and pursued her bachelor of science in nursing from Bowling Green State University/Medical College of Ohio and graduated in 1996. In 2007, she earned her master of science degree in nursing with honors from Wright State University and is a member of Phi Delta National Nursing Honor Society.