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Stories from the field: School nursing in the Jefferson County area

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Over the past two decades the field of school nursing has transformed from providing Band-Aids and ice packs to much more complicated tasks such as administering insulin, monitoring asthma, changing catheters and helping students recover from chemotherapy among other tasks. In addition, the number of children on psychotropic medication for mental health conditions has risen, pregnant teens are remaining in school and food allergies have more than doubled. With all of these changes, it is no wonder that highly skilled and well-trained nurses are present in schools and serving as a primary resource for students, administration and parents.

May 12 is National School Nurses Day, part of National Nurses Week, and to mark the occasion Fort HealthCare school nurses are sharing some of their stories from the field to help the community understand what their profession is all about. Their contributions are shown below.

“A third grade student has given me a hug every time she sees me, whether it be in the health room, hallway or classroom. She visits the health room very frequently and I have taken care of her during several of her visits throughout the years. One day she was walking down the hallway toward me when another student asked me if I was a nurse. I told her that, yes, I was a nurse when the third grader stopped in her tracks and said, ‘You’re a nurse? Here I thought you were just a doctor!’ Kids say the most wonderful things.” – From Lisa Jensen, RN, BSN, Fort Atkinson School District

“Last summer I was at a local hardware store when a young employee came up to me and said, ‘Hi, Nurse Hoffman. I’m sure you don’t remember me but you were my school nurse when I was in elementary school. I always came to your office with migraine headaches and just want to thank you for taking such good care of me. You always believed me when I said that I had a headache.’ Then he gave me a hug. Knowing that I have made a difference in a student’s life is the greatest reward of my job. To me, it’s priceless. I am so proud to be a school nurse.” From Diana Hoffman RN, BSN, NCSN, Whitewater Unified School District

“A second grader failed the vision screening during the fall. Because finances were an issue, I worked with her family to get funding through a local non-profit organization so the child could go to the eye doctor. When she returned to school with her new glasses, she asked the teacher if she could visit me. She walked into the health room and proclaimed, ‘I love my new glasses and I can even see the board now!’ It is amazing to get the kind of feedback that children provide; it’s one of the best parts of this job.” From Barb Bendall, RN, BSN, Deerfield and Marshall School Districts

“My favorite story is about a parent who called me after watching a school board meeting, where I presented my annual report, that was televised on local cable. She said she watched my entire presentation and was so surprised with all of the responsibilities a school nurse had. She said she had no idea that the district had so many students that required care plans, emergency medications and special health related needs adding that her own child has health concerns and she was so thankful that these services are provided in the schools. Conversations like these are what make this job so rewarding. Of course, we all love the cards, notes, and drawings that the kids leave on our desks, too!” From Sarah Borchert, RN, BA, Waterloo School District

These stories are only a sampling of the dozens each school nurse has to share. As student needs continue to change, so will the role of school nurses. For that reason, it is vital that school nurses be well educated and knowledgeable about a variety of health issues and conditions. Fort HealthCare’s School Nurses Program prides itself on providing top quality care to the children of our districts.

Fort HealthCare school nurses are Mary Hunt, RN, BSN for Cambridge Schools, Diana Hoffman, RN, BSN for Whitewater Schools, Lisa Jensen, RN, BSN for Fort Atkinson Schools, Toni Zastrow, RN, BSN for Lake Mills Schools, Lynn Zaspel, RN, BSN for Jefferson Schools, Sarah Borchert, RN, BA for Waterloo Schools and Barb Bendall, RN, BSN for Deerfield and Marshall Schools.
Students, visit to leave a message of appreciation to your school’s nurse during May and you will receive a free gift. To learn more about nursing at Fort HealthCare, visit


Front (L to R): Lisa Jensen, RN, BSN – Fort Atkinson Schools and Fort HealthCare School Nurse Coordinator, Mary Hunt, RN, BSN – Cambridge Schools, Jenny Pfeiffer, student nurse UW-Madison School of Nursing Intern – Whitewater Schools, Diana Hoffman RN, BSN – Whitewater Schools, Rosi Berger, RN, BSN Fort HealthCare School Nurse Manager.

Back (L to R): Toni Zastrow, RN, BSN – Lake Mills Schools, Lynn Zaspel, RN, BSN – Jefferson Schools, Sarah Borchert, RN, BA – Waterloo Schools, Natalee Lales, student nurse UW Madison School of Nursing Intern – Jefferson Schools.

Missing: Barb Bendall, RN, BSN – Deerfield and Marshall Schools