Where does it hurt?
From upset tummies to sore throats, allergies to asthma, fever to fatigue, Jennifer Bowling, RN has seen it all during the busy school year and she loves every minute of it. As a school nurse for the Davidson County School System, she divides her time and expertise between E. Lawson Brown Middle School, East Davidson High School, Fair Grove and Pilot Elementary Schools.
“As a school nurse, I’m able to combine my love for pediatrics and working with students of all ages. I really have the best of both worlds,” said Bowling, who is a mother herself to two school-age children, Gracie and Bailey. “Healthy students make better students, so it’s my job to ensure their health or medical needs are met throughout the school day. I think it gives parents a sense of security knowing a school nurse is available to help manage their child’s emotional as well as physical health needs.”
When a child becomes ill or injured at school, ‘Nurse Jennifer’ provides an immediate assessment and comfort until a parent or guardian can be notified. Because of strict school policies and an effort to prevent potential allergic reactions, neither Bowling or staff can administer over-the-counter drugs such as Tylenol or aspirin — not even a cough drop — without written permission from the doctor.
“If a child needs further medical care or attention of any kind, we call the parents or guardian right then,” Bowling said. “This type of open communication and partnership helps ensure children get the proper care and attention they need. After all, when a child is sick or hurt, they always want mom or dad.”
According to Bowling, with chronic childhood health problems on the rise such as obesity, asthma, diabetes and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), more and more students are requiring medications be administered at school to help stabilize their condition or other special health needs.
“Part of my role is to make sure students have the proper paperwork and medication in place and that the prescribed dosage is dispensed properly,” she said. “We encourage parents to bring a student’s medications at the start of school so teachers and staff are aware of what is going on. We can’t treat a student if the medication is not there or is expired.”
Bowling works closely with teachers and school personnel by educating them about those students’ health conditions that require them to take medication during the day. She also monitors immunization records and developing plans for emergency medical assistance.
“There are trained, first-aid responders at each school in the event a student has a health emergency such as a seizure or breaks a bone,” said Bowling. “We are all an important part of a child’s healthcare team. Promoting healthy, happy, well-educated kids is our number one goal.”