Milford School Nurse Sue Smith was recently nominated as State School Nurse of the Year in the State of Delaware. Only one of three nurses were nominated in the entire state, Smith said “It was an honor to be recognized by another school nurse in another district.”
Smith began her career in the medical field in 1977 as she worked with Dr. Quiroga, a medical practice in Dover, DE. She continued her career at the Milford Memorial Hospital Surgical Department and at the Dickenson Medical Group. In 1995 she started as a school nurse at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School in Milford for the next 15 years. While raising two boys she earned her Associate Degree in Nursing in 1986, Bachelors of Science in Nursing at Wilmington University in 1995 and Masters of Education in School Counseling in 2003. Since 2013 she has been a school nurse at Milford Central Academy, a floating nurse for the Milford school District and is presently the school nurse at Mispillion Elementary School. Smith has been a Nationally Certified School Nurse since 2004.
“The most rewarding part is to see students you have throughout your career and realize that they still remember you,” she said. “Knowing that you have touched their lives in some way.”
Adults may remember their own visits to the school nurse when they attended school but Smith says that the job is much more than treating belly aches and giving medicine to students. “We teach students how to take care of themselves and make smart health decision while at school but also at home.” School nurses have become the front line for health in many local communities. For many families, their connection with schools is the only place where they are able to talk with a professional about the benefits of making healthy choices.
For younger students, nurses use programs like 5-2-1-Almost None to help kids remember what daily health choices look like. These numbers stand for 5 fruits or vegetables, 2 hours of screen time, 1 hour of activity and Almost None sugary drinks or sweets. The hope is that even if kids are being raised in an environment of unhealthy choices they can make a difference in their own health by following these guidelines.
“There are more health issues in schools than we have ever see before,” said Smith. “Screen time can be a big factor but there are also less places that families feel safe allowing their kids to play outside. That can be due to increased traffic on our roads or in some cases unsafe neighborhoods.”
Smith states that school nurses are concerned about the health of all their students and that they hope that families feel comfortable reaching out to school nurses in an attempt to understand healthy decision making at home. “We care about the health and safety of your child and we want to help parents, educate them on health decisions that families can make together,” she said. “We can be your community resource. We are only a phone call away and we can work together to help your child be healthy.”
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