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Curating collective experiences of school nurses

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By: Judy Doran, RN

Judy Doran, RN, is a school nurse who writes “Maine Points,” a collection of essays that reflect her experiences during COVID. She believes in the power of creativity to promote healing. Judy invites school nurses to join her in this goal of healing from the collective trauma of COVID by sharing our stories. Here is Judy’s brilliant and timely idea for #NurseStoryNow:

Dear Friends,

The thought of writing about our collective experience has been with me for over a year now. I think I started in December of 2020 and now wonder what the heck I thought I was doing. Feel like I’ve been wearing banana peels for shoes since then. So now here we are in March 2022 and I’ve got a minute to string two thoughts together.

I would love to hear from you. There are no rules. Respond to any or all questions/thoughts. Add thoughts that aren’t here. Be honest, do not worry about grammar, language, flow. Curse, laugh, cry, whatever you need. You can write or if you’d like, send an audio file (would love some of those). You could handwrite a thought or many thoughts, take a photo and email it. You could snail mail it. You can paint a sign. If you feel like being creative, go for it! You can send one word or a million words. Whatever, I will appreciate anything you send in whatever format you are comfortable with. At the end of the day, I want to document our experience. Not sure what it will look like—sights, sounds, thoughts, fears, struggles, and achievements of school nurses in the 21st century.

No matter how you are feeling right now at this stage of the game, you can be sure that this applies to you.

You deserve enormous credit for impacting the lives of millions of people during this pandemic. Because of you…

  • millions of people did not transmit COVID in the community
  • millions of people did not show up at walk ins, PCP offices, or EDs
  • millions of people were educated and re-educated about isolation and quarantine
  • millions of people at least had a shot at understanding changing guidance.
  • millions of people made millions of phone calls and got millions of pieces of accurate information about how to protect their families
  • millions of people were tested
  • millions of people were able to return to work
  • millions of kids were able to return to school
  • millions of people were either vax’d in schools or referred to vax clinics.

Please remember this while you go through the questions/ ideas listed below.

  • Do you have a specific memory or visual from mid-March 2020? (as in the day your school closed)?
  • We’ve just passed the 2-year mark from that day. When you look back on it, does it seem like a lifetime ago? Does it seem like yesterday?
  • If somebody told you on that day where your school nurse practice would be in March 2022, how do you think you would have responded?
  • Do you feel recognized/acknowledged as a valued member of the public health community? Did you at any point? What has changed?
  • What have you lost?
  • What have you gained?
  • Where did you find support?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • Did you feel safe?
  • Have you ever talked about moral injury?
  • Would you use the word trauma to describe any of this experience?
  • Did your work interfere with your family life?
  • Did your sleep patterns/quality change?
  • Did you lose/gain weight?
  • Did you use alcohol or other substances more than usual?
  • Were you scared?
  • What would you like the world to know about school nurses during COVID?
  • Who do you see when you look in the mirror?
  • Do you want to return to school nursing next year?
  • You are in a room with President Biden, Secretary of Education Cardona, CDC director Dr. Walensky, and Dr. Fauci. What would you want to say to them?
  • You are in a room with all of us, what would you want to say to school nurses?
  • We’ve come a long way and in spite of enormous challenges, angst, frustrations, tears, fears, and utter bewilderment, we have the opportunity to re-establish ourselves as the community health experts that we are. Do you have any thoughts on raising awareness? Advocacy? Can you envision school nursing having a seat at the table? What would that look like for you?

Thanks a million for reading this and a million more for responding. Thanks for sharing.

With gratitude,

Judy

Please email your contribution to nursestorynow@gmail.com

PS: Actually, there is one rule: If you want to be anonymous, please say so. Otherwise, share whatever bio information you would like. Thanks again!

 

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