Georgia Department of Education: How long have you been a nurse? A school nurse?
Fran Overdyke: I have been a nurse for 43 years and in this position for 17. I worked in a school clinic for 3 years prior to that.
GaDOE: What inspired you to go into [school] nursing?
Ms. Overdyke: Public health was my love and it carries over into the school. Early in my public health nursing experience, the public health nurse also served in some capacity as the "school nurse consultant" although it was not called that. We were simply called to the school when they needed help with screening and communicable diseases. I also worked with developmentally disabled children and adults in the community and school settings.
GaDOE: What is your typical day [if that exists] like in Gwinnett County?
Ms. Overdyke: That question always makes me chuckle. There is no such thing. "Atypical" is more the norm. Every day is different and plans have to change as needs arise. If I have a meeting scheduled, but an urgent need arises, I have to assess and prioritize. If necessary, on any day any of the nurses might need to call on another to fill in and take care of a need. The GCPS county school nurses are all great to work with and we all have varied experience. We rely on each other to get the job done.
If a day goes as planned, it might include such things as mandated for training the entire staff in recognition and emergency care for student with severe allergies and/or asthma; training several staff members to perform a task such as tube feeding, catheterization or seizure first aid; developing health management plans for student(s) with health conditions; or an IAP or IEP meeting.
GaDOE: We know that school nurses contribute greatly to improving student attendance and success. Can you talk about your goals as a school nurse and how you help maintain optimal levels of health at school for staff and students?
Ms. Overdyke: Part of our job is to help develop plans that include input from physicians and other healthcare providers, family members, school staff and the student. School nurses are often the liaison and "translator" who is able to bring suggestions as to how we might handle health needs while at school.
GaDOE: Anything else we should know!
Ms. Overdyke: School nursing is the best job in a nursing career!