School Nurses and Therapists: Tips for Creating a Successful Program
The 2017 – 2018 school year is right around the corner, and district nurses and therapists are busy getting their programs prepared. If you are new to working in a school setting, you will quickly find out that it takes some planning to stay organized throughout the year. Below are a few tips for school nurses and therapists to help them get organized and create a successful program.
Starting off the year right. Good first impressions are important in any new job, and this one is no different. Early on, make sure you introduce yourself to the administrative team, principals, and the IEP and Special Education Coordinators. Be sure to establish these relationships as soon as possible because it will be important for you to learn about school policies regarding pulling students from class, learning about the technology systems being used, and other administrative policies. Introduce yourself to the classroom teachers and establish a spirit of partnership with them. Familiarize yourself with the layout of the school, learn where student files are kept, and locations of the meeting rooms.
Organizing your schedule and space. Your workspace should be setup to ensure you have everything you need in an accessible location. In many instances, your space may be cramped, but that isn’t an excuse for disorganized. Make sure secure storage for confidential files and records are available. Nurses have to learn about which students require medicine administration and secure the necessary documentation while therapists have to obtain their individual caseload. Once that is acquired, they can set up a schedule that works for them but is also least intrusive for the student’s schedule. In addition to your direct service time with students, remember to include time for IEP meetings, assessments, Medicaid billing, consultations, and makeup therapy time.
Your first two weeks. As you begin initiating therapy with your students, you must also provide a printed or online schedule to the teachers. Identify any students where you are responsible for their Medicaid billing and prepare parent notifications of their child’s therapy schedule and any other information about service delivery. If your school district doesn’t already subscribe to a particular data collection system, make sure you develop or find one for your use. Also, don’t forget to implement and use an attendance log. If possible, during these first few weeks, find out the anticipated IEP meeting schedule for the rest of the year.
Staying Organized. With the strong foundation that you have already built, staying organized doesn’t have to be a challenge. The key is to stay on top of your caseload and keep it updated at all times. At the same time, you will be asked to complete assessments as recommended by the Special Education team and need to fit those into your schedule as necessary. Develop a system to help you keep your progress reports up-to-date and don’t let your IEP report deadlines sneak up on you. Throughout the year, it is important to build upon the relationships you developed when you began the school year. School nurses and therapists are all important members of the team and should stay as involved in school activities as possible.
While it is difficult to imagine it now as the school year is just ramping up, one thing to keep in mind as the calendar flips to 2018 is what you will need to do to maintain your licensure, certifications, and continuing education credits. Many of you handle those commitments during the summer break, and it is always good to plan ahead.
From all of us here at Supplemental Health Care, best wishes for a happy, successful school year and keep checking back to this space for all of the latest information and developments that are important to those of us in the healthcare industry. If you have tips of your own for school-based nurses and therapists, please consider sharing them in the comment section below or on our Facebook page.