WALDORF, Md. – Nearing the end of a recent half-day of school, Jill Buntz, school nurse at William B. Wade Elementary School, had already seen about 30 students. On a full day of school, the numbers would be higher, maybe even double.
School Nurse Day is Wednesday, May 10. The day was established to relay a better understanding of the role of nurses in schools, according to the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). The week of May 6-12 is recognized as National Nurses Week with inclusion of National School Nurse Day introduced in 2003, according to the American Nurses Association (ANA). Through a partnership with the Charles County Department of Health, each CCPS school and center has a school nurse on site. The CCPS program is overseen by Holly Jackson, school health nurse program manager, and Dawn E. Lish, school health nurse supervisor.
Buntz has been at Wade for about 10 years. She sees students daily who must monitor chronic health issues such as diabetes, tends to those who experience an injury or illness, and sometimes she just lends an ear.
“There are some students who just need someone to listen to them. Sometimes they just need a break,” she said. On a recent day, Buntz took the time to change a Band-Aid for a student who fell at home the night before. Another student popped in the office after he said he was hit in the head with a football at recess. Buntz went through a list of tasks — the student followed her finger with his eyes, walked heel to toe in a straight line and allowed her to check his head for injuries. He received the “all clear,” a pass back to class and a call placed to his mom as a follow up. Before he left, Buntz asked him what he can do to avoid the injury again. He said he might avoid playing football in the future. “Well, I don’t think you have to stop playing,” she answered. “Just be more aware of where the ball is.”
For Natasha Williams, the school nurse at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School, when the morning bell trills, she hits the ground running. This year’s roster includes students who use feeding tubes and a handful who are managing diabetes. Then like at any school, there are students and staff who drop by the nurse’s office each day for any number of concerns. There is paperwork and notes home to remind parents that medication must be picked up before the end of the school year and children need to have up-to-date immunizations. Williams, who helps train new school nurses, has been at Stoddert since 2002. “I stay because I love the kids, and I love having the opportunity to educate the parents as well,” she said.
Like Williams, Buntz tries to educate. “I want to empower children to take care of themselves … promote a little independence,” she said. When she was thinking of a career, she was weighing being a teacher or a nurse. She loved science, so nursing won out. She spent a few years as a labor and delivery nurse at a hospital and worked as a reproductive endocrinology and infertility nurse before leaving the field to raise her children. A friend was the nurse at Wade — Buntz’s children attended the school — and asked if she would be interested in being a school nurse substitute. When her friend took a position at another school, Buntz became the school nurse at Wade. Working in a school isn’t all that different than being at a hospital. “It’s fast paced, and things are always changing. You have to keep up, you are always problem solving,” Buntz said. “It’s not just putting on Band Aids.”
To learn more about the school nurse program, visit the School Nurse page on www.ccboe.com.
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,598 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.
CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).