February 3, 2022 News

A day in the life of a school nurse

West High School Nurse Mary Mason takes a staff member's blood pressure. Photo by Cailtin Yamada, Sioux City Journal.
West High School Nurse Mary Mason takes a staff member's blood pressure. Photo by Caitlin Yamada, Sioux City Journal.

Daily medicine, fevers, cuts and bruises, and COVID-19 tests are just a few of the things Mary Mason sees each day as a school nurse in Sioux City Community School District.

Providing care for 1,400 students in West High School as well as the students in Liberty Elementary School when needed keeps her more than busy.

Mornings usually start with giving daily medications, checking in with students and parents, and recently, administering COVID-19 tests.

Mason has been a school nurse in Sioux City for 16 years. She started her career in the emergency room, worked in intensive care, post-critical and medical clinics. She had become interested in being a school nurse and saw it as a new challenge.

COVID-19 changed the way school nurses operate. The nurses attended various training sessions and started new cleaning procedures.

The School district purchased rapid COVID-19 tests for school nurses to administer. Mason said the number of tests they are doing has increased as the countywide case numbers have increased.

Mason she likes having the ability to administer the tests and hopes more will utilize the opportunity.

While some kids are sent to the nurse because of various medical issues, Mason said others stop by just to have someone to talk to.

She said some kids need someone who is unbiased to talk about issues in their life.

The school nurses play a variety of different roles including educator, friend, counselor, and more, Mason said, but they are always supported and helped by the other school staff.

The students are Mason’s favorite part of the job.

“I cry with people, I laugh with people, I get emotional,” she said.

One day a child broke his arm at Liberty toward the end of the day and Mason could tell it was a bad break. She said he did not speak much English but she stayed with him and talked while they were waiting for an ambulance.

“I just started crying,” she said.

She keeps a notebook of students she wants to follow up with to check in if they are sick or injured.

One of the challenges can be parents. She said many times parents just need someone to help work through an issue.

Overall, Mason said the career is very rewarding. She can build relationships with students, parents, and staff.

“They feel comfortable enough to call me if they need something, which I like because it helps me know I’ve made a difference,” Mason said.

View the full article by Caitlin Yamada on the Sioux City Journal’s website.