“Educating kids about their health is really exciting.”
That’s one of the reasons Cara Rudolph loves her job as a school nurse at Cimarron Elementary. She enjoys working with students, whether she’s bandaging a scrap, teaching kids to combat illnesses like the common cold or the flu by washing their hands regularly, or helping them learn to manage serious health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes.
“Our goal is for them to be independent in their care. They have to learn how to take care of themselves because this is lifelong for them,” said Rudolph, who is a Nationally Certified School Nurse (NCSN).
She also enjoys working with parents, teachers and other school professionals to support the health and well-being of every Cimarron student. That, in turn, supports their academic growth and achievement.
“Healthy children learn better,” said Suzanne Oro, director of Health Services for Cherry Creek Schools, one of the only districts in the state that has a nurse at every school. “School nurses make a difference in academic success.”
Cherry Creek’s school nurses accomplish that by promoting health and safety at school and providing quality health care to nearly 55,000 students. Their work can range from treating minor injuries to managing asthma, diabetes and other chronic conditions including life-threatening allergies and seizure disorders. School nurses also care for students who are battling cancer or need nourishment through a G-tube.
“You’re working with children who have been in the hospital, who could be in the hospital,” said Jessi Puga, the school nurse at Pine Ridge Elementary. “It’s way beyond band-aids and taking temperatures.”
In fact, it is the mission of the Cherry Creek Schools Health Services department “to promote the health, academic success and lifelong well-being of CCSD students through oversight of medical, dental, mental health and nutritional matters in our schools.” That’s why the department also has an insurance outreach liaison and two Medicaid specialists who help families access available resources for insurance, medical and dental care and other services that help their children stay healthy.
In addition, Health Services has hosted clinics to make it easier for families to get required immunizations for their children. Those immunizations help stop the spread of dangerous diseases in our schools. The department also oversees the district’s supply of more than 100 Automated External Defibrillators (AED), life-saving devices that are located in every school and district building. What’s more, Health Services provides first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training for teachers and other staff members. In just the past two years, more than 1,200 employees have taken the training, which could potentially save someone’s life.
Oro says it is challenging, rewarding work.
“I am proud to serve as a school nurse in a district committed to the health and safety of its school communities,” Oro said. “Cherry Creek school nurses are dedicated to excellence and continuously strive to elevate their professional practice, delivering innovative school health services to our 55,000 students, their families and our communities.”