Updates From a School Nurse With Three Students With CF in One School

About a year and a half ago, I started preparing for three students with cystic fibrosis at the school where I work as a school nurse. Here's an update on how things have been going.

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Rachel Jackson, RN
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About a year and a half ago, I started preparing for the 2016-2017 school year. As the school nurse at a small-town high school, I am used to preparing for the school year in advance. This year, however, was going to be a bit more challenging; I would have three students with cystic fibrosis under one roof.

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Fast forward to today, and I am now in the throes of it. Fortunately, my research and preparation appear to have paid off. Although I've made a few tweaks to my plans, all in all we are having a good year. The action plans I set up for each of the students have been a tremendous help for them and the staff. Each student with CF knows the rules when using common areas, and the teachers have copies of the plans so they can make sure everyone is where they should be.

One major reason things have gone so well is due to the amazing staff and administration at the Walpole High School (WHS). As you may recall, I had planned a school-wide meeting at the beginning of the year where I presented everyone with a picture and action plan for each student with CF.

I literally started off the meeting by saying, "I cannot stress to you all the importance of the information I am about to give you. There could very well be deadly consequences if you do not take this very seriously."

After that grabbed their attention, I gave them all a CF fact sheet and proceeded to give them a crash course on CF. I will be honest with you -- I was rather surprised at the overwhelmingly positive and proactive responses I got. The staff has been nothing short of amazing. They always call me if they are going to change classrooms, have general questions, or need some supplies like disinfecting wipes or tissues. It is a matter of ongoing education for staff, which they have been very open to.

The student body has been very receptive as well. The school newspaper did a feature article on CF and our three students. One of the writers interviewed each of the students with CF, their parents, and me. She did a ton of research and wrote a very eye-opening article to help educate all students about CF.

Perhaps the most exciting thing that has come about is that the film department is working on a documentary about CF to premiere during the high school's 2018 film festival, with the older brother of one of the students with CF serving as the director.

WHS has had a film festival (complete with a red carpet) for the last 14 years. It has become a very big deal in town and is well-attended. The film, which also will be a fundraiser for CF research, will include interviews from students and their parents, as well as the parents of my best friend in high school who later died of CF. Doctors from Boston Children's Hospital also are scheduled to give their input.

After my first blog was posted on the CF Community Blog, it was republished in the National Association of School Nurses Digest. I am extremely surprised at the overwhelmingly positive support and feedback I have received. I have heard from over 100 different nurses and about 50 different parents from all over the United States asking for copies of my resources. I even created a consent form for sharing information specific to CF students, a CF fact sheet, and most importantly, my action plan template. I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to share all of my hard work with so many people. I can only hope that my efforts have helped others.

If you are interested in seeing Rachel's consent form, fact sheet, and action plan template, feel free to email her at rjackson@walpole.k12.ma.us.

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Topics
Teen Care | Infection Prevention and Control | School
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Rachel is the school nurse at Walpole High School in Walpole, Mass. She earned her master's degree in education and has many years of acute care experience and expertise in pediatrics, maternal and child health (MCH) home visit nursing, and hospice. Rachel has wanted to be a nurse since she was very young, and her aspirations were only confirmed later in life when she became good friends with a classmate who had CF. Recently, she has been faced with the challenge of accommodating three students with CF who will attend the high school together. Email Rachel at rjackson@walpole.k12.ma.us.

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