This week, we have the opportunity to celebrate members of our community who have a tremendous impact on our daily lives: school nurses. Since 1972, National School Nurse Appreciation Day has recognized the contributions of campus medical providers to foster greater awareness of the impact of their work. Through their care, early intervention, and advocacy, more than 95,000 school nurses nationwide make it possible for students to fully access their education.
Ross School benefits from the service of the three nurses: Mary Nanos, who works with Lower School students, and Rose Smith and Christine Murphy, who serve the Upper School population. They are a tremendous resource to our campus, with a combined total of nearly 100 years in the nursing industry and a broad background that includes past experience working in surgical wards, elder care, oncology, labor and delivery, and home care. Most important, they offer students, faculty, and staff a safe and warm environment in which to address their medical concerns.
All three of Ross’s nurses felt called from an early age to lives of service. Mary, who comes from a family with six children, credits her mother’s nurturing demeanor as an inspiration. After volunteering as a candy striper at Nassau Medical Center, she began a lifelong career as a nurse. Rose wanted to be a nurse for as long as she can remember. She spent several years as a Certified Nursing Assistant while raising her children before ultimately completing nursing school. And for Christine, life as a nurse has been deeply enhanced by the relationships she made throughout her career.
Though schools differ significantly from clinical environments, due in part to their primarily healthy populations, K–12 schools can also be medically robust environments, serving patients with a broad spectrum of needs due to the variety in their ages. “Because every student requires a different approach, my job is both challenging and exciting,” Christine said. “At this point in my career, after 21 years as a nurse, I still feel like I’m learning.”
Ross’s boarding population adds another dimension to the women’s work. Before students even begin classes, Rose and Christine must ensure that they are in compliance with the requirements set by the New York State Department of Health. Familial distance and language barriers can offer additional challenges. “Because students’ parents are so far away, we also have to act as the family nucleus,” Rose said. “Knowing that their child is getting the right care places parents at ease. I treat the students as if they are my kids.”
“One of the rewarding things is hearing the appreciation from parents,” Mary agreed. “They are so grateful to know their children are in great hands.”
Join us in thanking a nurse this week. Our school and community would not be the same without them!