I was listening to a podcast today and the host said, “we are beginning to think about what it [life] is going to look like after COVID”. I wondered, “Have school nurses begun to think about what school nursing will look like after COVID?”
This question it is so important and needs to be given some thought. This is a historical time in school nursing. School nursing will and should look different after the pandemic. School nurses have navigated tremendous shifts in practice, time commitments, and have acquired significant new knowledge and skills. I hope and believe that school nurses have garnered new respect from their school communities. School nurses have stepped into the spotlight and taken the lead. Many school nurses have also expressed being at their breaking point and a need to create a more manageable workload. A question we need to ask ourselves, is “how do we downshift and create a manageable school nurse practice while maintaining the visibility that the pandemic has garnered for school nursing?”
I encourage school nurses to take some time to reflect and plan for their future practice, consider it an act of self-care. Find a quiet place and ask yourself, “What did my nursing practice look like pre-COVID, what does it currently looks like, and what do I desire for my future school nursing practice?”
An activity to consider would be to document a “typical” pre-COVID and a current day, review the days on the two lists. Some questions you may consider asking yourself are:
- What activities did you do pre-COVID that you no longer do?
- What activities do you do now that you did not do before COVID?
- What new activities were you required to do during the pandemic that you plan on continuing?
- Are there areas of your school nurse practice that you miss?
- What are you excited to stop doing?
- What are you excited to be able to do in the future that you are not able to do right now?
- During the pandemic, what activities were you forced to delegate to others that you have now realized do not need to be done by you and you can continue to delegate?
- What new relationships have you developed?
- What new relationships will you prioritize and nurture?
- What relationships have been beneficial to your nursing practice?
- Which activities cause you the most stress?
- Which activities bring you the most joy?
After you have spent time reflecting on your practice, I have one final question for you to consider, “How can you share what you have learned during the pandemic with other school nurses?” COVID-19 has transformed school nursing and many school nurses have developed innovative ways to address the pandemic. It is vital that this information be shared with colleagues and peers. Consider authoring an article for your state association newsletter or a National Association School Nurse (NASN) publication. Present at your state conference or submit an abstract for a poster or breakout session at a national conference. Although this has been a trying and exhausting time for many, identifying and highlighting the transformative changes that has occurred in your practice could be a way for you to refresh and recharge.