Case Study: Clinical Lead For School Nursing - Chris

What do you do?

I give medical care and health education to pupils in local primary and comprehensive schools.

I assess their health needs, which includes height, weight and hearing tests, for Eastbourne Downs Primary Care Trust (PCT). We do not do any vision tests; we ask the parents to take their children to an optician. We try to detect problems as early as possible.

We educate pupils on diet, smoking, drugs, mental health and safe sex. We also provide a service for immunisations, and we work with parents and teachers to support pupils with special nursing needs.

Also, I'm the clinical lead for school nursing, so it is my role to take the school nursing service forward for Eastbourne Downs PCT.

What is your background?

I'm a qualified nurse and I came into the job because my youngest daughter was entering school full-time and I saw an advert in the paper for a school nurse. I decided that I could do the job, and applied and was interviewed, and was lucky enough to get the position.

What characteristics do you need to be successful in your job?

I need to enjoy working with children, which I do. I'm very friendly, I have an open personality and I try to build up good relationships with children, as well as staff in school, and parents.

I have to be sensitive because of the nature of some of the work that is given to me, and I need to deal with it in a confidential way. I have to be tactful and discreet and I do try to treat each child as an individual.

Also, I think we have to have a sense of humour.

What other jobs could you do using the skills from this job?

Using the skills I've gained in the school nursing service, I could go into teaching in a college of further education and teach part of the childcare NVQ courses.

What changes will there be in the future?

The biggest change that we're experiencing at the moment is due to the fact that the government has withdrawn the BCG immunisation programme for students, which means that children are only immunised against tuberculosis (TB) if they are from a high risk country or if they have had family that have come into contact with it.

What are the biggest challenges in your job?

The biggest challenge that we have as school nurses is actually promoting ourselves and getting into schools and working with teachers, parents and students alike.

It is really challenging to get some students on board and to get them to talk to us.

Are there many opportunities to enter this career?

It would be easier if the PCTs would buy our services as school nurses because over the country there are fewer than 1,000 qualified school nurses to deal with all of the school age population.

What do you like about your job?

The best thing I like about my job is actually working with the children, especially the children in Reception. They're just coming into school, they're really great, the things they say make you laugh and you have a good time with them.

What do you dislike about your job?

The main thing I dislike about my job is when I see children having problems that I can't take through to the end because I haven't got enough members of staff and there are not enough other professionals out there to help us.

What are your ambitions?

My ambition is that I really would like more staff so that we are all able to do the job that we like best, which is helping the children to benefit from their health and education.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Ring up a school nursing department and ask if you can come out and spend some time with us, see what we do and just be part of the team.

A day in the life

8:15 am - 9:00 am

Go to the office and check emails and telephone messages, and respond as necessary.

9:00 am - 12:15 pm

Make school visits and carry out height, weight and hearing tests, for example.

12:15 pm - 1:15 pm

Have lunch.

1:15 pm - 3:30 pm

Deal with clinical lead workload. This consists of management tasks.

3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Complete paperwork related to the day's school visits and make telephone calls to parents.

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