Being a school nurse, according to New Richmond District School Nurse Joan Simpson, is more than just giving out Bandaids. That is why she invited Sen. Patty Schachtner to visit the high school on Monday, March 25, as part of a "Day in the Life of a School Nurse."
"I feel that every student should have somebody very knowledgeable in their health needs so that they can be successful in school and so that parents don't have to worry about their kids when they are with us," Simpson said.
During the two hours Schachtner visited the school, she spent 30 minutes speaking with a civics class about her position and what she fights for at the state level.
"It's exciting to see the next generation engaged with state government. Elected officials help make decisions about our roads, schools and the environment. It was inspiring to see students asking thoughtful questions and exploring careers in public service," said Schachtner.
Schachtner also met with special needs students during lunch and visited the agriculture classroom to see opportunities the school district offers its students.
"A lot of my students are students that have high health needs, which often means that they are learning disabled as well, but not always. Then we have activities and other learning opportunities that they thrive in, and one of them is the ag department, so that is why we went there," Simpson said. "We also went to see some severe cognitive disabled students at lunch. I showed her our coffee shop so she could see our lower functioning students interact there. She also saw a diabetic with a learning disability and how that is so challenging."
After she finished her tour, Schachtner and Simpson sat down to discuss school nursing and Simpson's thoughts about every school deserving a school nurse.
"As a former school health care provider, I understand that school nurses and health care providers are investments in stronger, healthier communities. I was impressed with Joan's work as a nurse and her work to address hunger through the community backpack program," Schachtner said. "Ultimately, hunger, health care and student performance are all interconnected. New Richmond is very lucky to have an on-site, trained RN, as many school districts do not have one. I'm glad to see New Richmond work to prioritize student health, and I'm hopeful that public schools across western Wisconsin can receive the resources they need to help our students excel."
Simpson, who is the current president of the Wisconsin Association of School Nurses, said the purpose behind hosting "A Day in the Life of a School Nurse" visit with Schachtner was to show the senator what she does on a daily basis as well as how busy she is every day.
"We also talked about what my role here is, which is that I am kind of the bridge for bringing the community health services to the school. A student's job is to learn and come to school every day. So it is kind of working within their restrictions and what accommodations I can put into the school environment for them to remain successful, safe and healthy," Simpson said. "We also talked about a big mental health grant that is out there and about the importance of that. School nurses play a huge role in mental health since the students come to our health office with headaches and stomach aches and I want us to be included in that grant as it is dished out."
After her day with Simpson was done, Schachtner met with the administration team, Simpson said.