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My Journey of Becoming a School Nurse (And Why I Love It)

If you’re a longtime school nurse and MacGill customer, you may remember our book, “A Long Way from Henry Street”, in which we featured stories written by school nurses just like you about their experiences of keeping children healthy and happy.

Over the last few years, and especially so in 2020, school nursing has continued to change. That’s why we’ve decided to revive this project (click here to learn more)! Our hope is to provide a place for school nurses to share their experiences with the community. We’ll be publishing your stories in our upcoming flyers and right here on our blog. Please enjoy the next story from our 2021 “Henry Street” series:

My Journey of Becoming a School Nurse (And Why I Love It)

My first experience with school nursing was in my last year of my BSN program. My spring clinical rotation was at Hopkins Elementary School in Sherwood, Oregon. At the time, funding for school nurses in Oregon was virtually non-existent, so my clinical days at Hopkins was the only school nurse time the school had each week. I have many memories from my time there, but as you can imagine, 12 clinical hours a week barely allowed for injury management, lice picking and a few care plans over the short six weeks of my rotation.

Years later, when my kids were in elementary school, I often helped their school nurse with annual health screenings. I also spent a lot of time volunteering in my kids’ classrooms. Once they were in 2nd and 3rd grade, I knew I was ready to return to work and I needed a job that fit well with my kids in school. I had not applied for or interviewed for a job of any kind in over 10 years! I knew school nursing was what I wanted to do, but I needed experience. So, I signed on as a substitute nurse in my kids’ school and gained the experience I needed to develop my resume.

In August 2012, the school district near our home advertised for a 10 hour per week school nurse position. I interviewed and was offered the job on the first day of school. I started the next day! The part time hours and the proximity to home was such a great fit.

As with most nurses who are new to school nursing, that first year I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Thankfully, I had a lot of support from our School Nurse Corp Coordinator.  We had monthly New School Nurse Meetings where we learned about things we didn’t even know to ask about! That process built my knowledge and allowed me to apply new things every month. At the end of that year, I took the Washington School Nurse ESA 3-day training – with a year of learning and work under my belt I felt so ready.

It was after that first year of survival and keeping myself afloat that I really fell in love with school nursing. I enjoy helping families and managing student health conditions to maximize their instructional time. I often feel like a detective trying to get to the bottom of what is really going on, only to find what is often a simple solution to get kids to school and in their classrooms.

I am thrilled to be in a sector of nursing where we foster young new nurses. I love the camaraderie of school nurses. We are often the only nurse in our building and/or district. We are almost fully supervised by non-medical supervisors, so we depend on each other to work smarter not harder and help one another. I love having a list of school nurses that I respect and know are there to help when I hit a roadblock or need some advice. I also love watching my students learn and grow over the years and helping them learn to manage and advocate for themselves and their own health. So little time is available in medical appointments now, that frequently the school nurse is the one educating families and students about their new medication or diagnosis. Often the new asthmatic shows up in the school nurse office with an inhaler that is still sealed in the package and they have no idea how to use it. These powerful education opportunities teach kids to manage their own health.

I entered school nursing thinking it would be a good fit for my family and provide needed medical insurance coverage. Nine years later, I continue in school nursing because I love my job and the opportunities I have to work with students, families, educators, the community and medical providers to further the health of students and maximize access to instructional time that could be impeded by health conditions.


Michelle Rogge, RN, BSN
Manson, WA


Share YOUR school nurse story! Click here to learn how you can submit your story to MacGill for a chance to be featured in our “Henry Street” series.

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