By Barbara Maher,  RN, BSN, NJ-CSN

Barbara Maher is a school nurse in Rahway and a member of the Rahway Education Association. She is the membership chair of the NJSSNA and President of the Union County School Nurses Association. Any questions may be directed to Maher at bmaher@rahway.net.

I am your school nurse. I work, usually, in an office-of-one, caring for hundreds of students, teachers, educational support professionals and administrators. I make sure that state regulations are followed and kept up to date, that students are safe, and that necessary medical interventions are performed. These interventions include dispensing necessary medications, providing care and supervision for students with chronic health conditions such as food allergies, asthma and seizures, working with students with diabetes to manage their blood sugar levels, and addressing the needs of students with mental health concerns  or anxieties.

Nurses in hospitals work alongside other nurses, physicians, and a multitude of support staff, but school nurses typically are the sole health care providers for their schools. Even when we can frequently speak to other school nurses in our districts, time constraints rarely permit the kind of in-depth discussions necessary to keep up to date on regulations, policies and procedures.

How are we able to get that information?

As the president of the Union County School Nurses Association, it is my duty to ensure that nurses are kept informed. I get much of my information from my state and national associations, but you can also be kept aware of everything associated with school guidelines by joining your county, state, and national association.

Why should you join?

As a member of my county association, I meet with other school nurses at our monthly meetings to share and keep abreast of current trends in school nursing and pediatric nursing. Every month we receive two professional development hours, and three times a year we go to an evening presentation and dinner where we get additional professional development hours. Last year, our county association provided 22 professional development hours to each member who attended.

As a member of the New Jersey State School Nurses Association, I attend meetings monthly and speak to other nurses in the state. The state meetings present speakers on a variety of pertinent topics. These talks can be very helpful in suggesting solutions to problems we sometimes face. I am also able to recognize someone from my county each year who goes above and beyond to become our county nurse of the year. This is a prestigious honor and the winner is recognized at the state dinner meeting in the spring.

Even when we can frequently speak to other school nurses in our districts, time constraints rarely permit the kind of in-depth discussions necessary to keep up to date on regulations, policies and procedures.  How are we able to get that information?

National benefits

Membership in the National Association of School Nurses provides many benefits. You have access to information on the NASN website (nasn.org) starting with professional development, access to professional journals, and access to policies and protocols pertaining to national and state laws such as Glucagon policies, Narcan policies, and Epi-Pen policies to name a few.

Schoolnurse.net provides a forum for problem resolution and case-study reviews. Sometimes you find answers to things you never thought you would. Many times, you can find someone who has struggled with the same problems that you are having, and an easy solution is provided. You can join forums that are just for high school nurses, elementary school nurses or a broader range. I find these invaluable.

Depending on where you do your nursing you might have children who fail their vision test and they have no means to get glasses. You can get vouchers for up to 20 students to provide these children with the glasses they need for free. Think of the change that can make for a low-income child. To me, just this one benefit is enough to justify joining.

Membership

The cost to join your New Jersey State School Nurses Association is $149 per year. This also includes membership to the National Association of School Nurses. Membership lasts for one year from the time you join. If you join by April 1, 2019, you will receive a $20 voucher for merchandise that can be used at the spring NJSSNA conference.

Please consider joining and once you do I assure you it will be something you do each year. Visit the website to join.

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