If you read my article about the endangered school nurse, you might remember a striking story from the Lincoln High nurse. I wanted to include the full story here, just the way nurse Kathy Ryan told it:

I walked into an office and there was a little girl sitting there and I said, “Hi honey, how are you doing?” She said, “I need a (sanitary) pad.” And I look at her and I say, “C’mere, we need to talk … Honey, you don’t need a pad, you need to go to the hospital.”

Ryan asked the girl a few questions about what was happening to her and realized the girl was going into labor. The student knew she was pregnant. But she resisted leaving school:

She said, “No, the baby’s not due until later in February. This is January.” I said, “You’re going to have the baby today and I need to get you to the hospital because I don’t want you have the baby here.”

The girl had just gone for her first checkup the week before. Ryan called the nurse that the girl had met with to convince her to go to the hospital. Finally convinced, the girl agreed to go.

Ryan told this story to explain the value of nursing judgment, the medical knowledge to assess what a child needs. Someone else could have handled the girl’s request. But Ryan noticed that something else was going on and asked the right questions:

The secretary would have given her a pad and she’d have had the baby here at Lincoln. She had a little tummy. But I don’t think the secretary would have even made the connection. They’re sitting behind a desk. The kid is standing on the other side of it. She didn’t come in and say, “Gosh, I’m pregnant and I don’t know what’s wrong.” She just thought she’d take care of it.

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/emilyschoolsyou.

Emily Alpert

Emily Alpert was formerly the education reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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