Nurse is serious about making people laugh

(KC Community News) Logan-Magnolia School Nurse Melissa Meeker, knows she is in the perfect place for her career path, as National Nurses Week is celebrated this week.

“I love the kids,” Meeker said. “I love their smiles and hugs. They are always happy to see me and I’m always happy to see them. They show so much excitement.”

Meeker has served as the School Nurse at Lo-Ma since 1996, shortly after she received her Bachelor of Science Degree from Clarkson Nursing School in Omaha.

“I worked at the Med Center for a couple of months, before I got the job here,” Meeker said.

Over the past 15 years, she has at times also worked for Alegent Community Memorial Hospital in Missouri Valley, Children’s Hospital in Omaha and Harrison County Public Health, but taking care of kids is her forte.

“I wanted to become a nurse to help and care for people,” Meeker said.

Knowing the career had great longevity as well as great employment opportunities in so many different areas, also aided in her career path decision.

“You can also change your type of nursing without changing your entire career,” Meeker said.

Her position as a School Nurse works well with her family.

“Having three boys in school and involved in many activities, it’s a nice family-oriented career that just fits with having children,” she said.

One of the largest changes since she started her career in 1996 has been the growing number of children diagnosed with major illnesses and allergies than ever before.

“We have children here with diabetes, muscular dystrophy and major food allergies such as allergies to peanuts and Celiac Disease, things you didn’t see so much of 15 years ago,” she said.

“When I first started, Carrie Vaughn was our first diabetic, now we have four under fourth grade,” she said.

One of those four is her son.

Most of the children in school today, also have both parents that work full time and are utilizing daycare, Meeker said.

“It’s just the way the world is today,” she said. “Kids are involved in so many activities nowadays. I guess we just expect more out of our students and children these days than we did 15 years ago.”

In a typical day, Meeker, who is in charge of Pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, will see 20 to 25 students up to 75 in a single day. Her days are full of cuts and bruises, temperatures, earaches, sore throats, scrapes, etc. Besides caring for students with those complaints, three to four times a day she takes blood sugar samples from the children with diabetes and gives them their insulin. She meets with each student, takes their blood sugar levels, discusses with them what they will be eating for lunch, and then gives the appropriate amount of insulin.

In her office you will find a wall of “safe snack drawers,” for the students with diabetes or allergies, and another wall with medication cubbies for her charges that have respiratory issues and need to use nebulizers etc. as needed. This doesn’t include the locked drawer where daily medicines are stored.

Every time Meeker sees a student, she records in a logbook the time, reason and time they left.

“This is just for myself and then if I ever have a question I can look back in the record,” Meeker said.

She said with the plethora of cells phones, email and text, she finds it easier to reach parents, but harder for them to come and pick up their children due to the demands of their jobs.

A new state requirement this year is that all seniors become certified in CPR prior to graduation. Me-eker, along with high school instructor, Deneen Healey, serve as instructors for these classes.

“The school purchased 13 to 15 mannequins and we work the kids through until they are certified,” Meeker said.

She is also gathering heights and weights this year on all students in grades pre-school through sixth.

“Harrison County Pub-lic Health (HCPH) has asked up to compile an average body mass index for each grade, so they can get a baseline of the children of different ages and get an idea on how to improve the health of our kids,” Meeker said. “We will give them an average male and average female body mass index for each grade. All schools in the county are doing this.”

Meeker said HCPH hopes that, to go along with this next year, to encourage healthier food choices being sent to school.

For anyone thinking of joining Meeker’s career path, the need for Reg-istered Nurses is expected to grow by 22.2 percent from 2008-2018, according to an article in 247wallst.com. During that time frame an estimated new 581,500 jobs will be created in the nursing field with a medicine income of $64,690 for the profession.

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