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Nurses are an integral part in a school community

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was spotlighted how critical the role of a school nurse is in the overall function of a school. From the everyday bandaid needs to the quick emergency care when a student has broken a bone or bleeding profusely, school nurses have been and always will be an integral part of the school community.

Mrs. Ashley Woolsey, R.N., at Hartman Elementary is the perfect example of a nurse who is committed to the health and safety of the students on her campus.

“I like the tummy aches and the lost teeth. It may not seem like a big deal if [students] have a paper cut to someone else, but to them, that’s their whole day. If I can make their day and their experience in school better, then it just makes my day,” Woolsey said.

Being a school nurse is her second career. After college, she obtained a marketing degree and began working as a salesperson in the healthcare industry. After realizing that corporate America wasn’t for her, she returned to school to obtain her degree in nursing from The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

 “I did my school nursing rotation and I loved it. Community health is not for everybody - it’s a different type of nursing. You have to have a heart for it. I knew I wanted to be a school nurse,” Woolsey said. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else now. I’ve been doing it for six years now and love it.”

Like many people in education who were tested during the pandemic, school nurses were stretched to their limits. Throw in the fact that Woolsey was pregnant, she had to make necessary adjustments to her clinic space to best serve herself, her baby, the school, and its students.

“I had to be a rooming nurse. [The clinic] was my clean space. If teachers had students that were injured or ill, I had to visit the classroom,” Woolsey said. “I was doing 15,000 steps a day, running from one side of the building to another. I had to keep the clinic clean. We had a separate room for anyone who needed to be quarantined. It was strange but also, business as usual.”

It was critical for Woolsey to be the calming head on campus during the pandemic, a time in which everyone seemed panicked at the growing public health crisis.

“Being in a school, you don’t have as many resources as a hospital. That may be where some anxiety came in (at the time),” Woolsey said. “What was giving me the most anxiety was the [positive] numbers we were getting. It would take about 10-20 minutes per case to do the full investigation - from communicating to parents to contact tracing, on top of everything else we were doing.”

Now that the pandemic frenzy has calmed down yet the education industry continued to deal with change, it’s the kids and the job that keep Woolsey coming back.

“I have seen students from kinder to 5th grade grow. I’ve seen them grow into a little… person,” Woolsey said. “I like the tummy aches and the lost teeth. It may not seem like a big deal if they have a paper cut to someone else, but to them, that’s their whole day. If I can make their day and their experience in school better, then it just makes my day.”

From paper cuts to first-time seizures, simple biological accidents to bloody falls on the playground, Woolsey is vital in ensuring that students are safe at Hartman Elementary.

“Our goal is to make sure your kids are safe and healthy, and in school,” Woolsey said.


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