Chancellor's and Dean's List nursing student Morgan Oliveira '22 found some surprises when she observed the role of a school nurse during her pediatric clinical experience.
Feature Stories 2021: Morgan Oliveira ’22 observes the role of the school nurse during her pediatric clinical rotation
Morgan Oliveira ’22 observes the role of the school nurse during her pediatric clinical rotation

Nursing student reflects on her clinical experiences

School nurses don’t just pass out band-aids and ice packs or treat stomachaches and headaches, as Morgan Oliveira ’22 recently learned.

As part of her pediatric clinical rotation, Oliveira, of Dartmouth, was required to observe a school nurse. She was thrilled to be placed at her former school, Dartmouth Middle School, where she worked with two school nurses.

She wondered how hard it could be, but soon saw firsthand the demanding role of a school nurse. While they provide standard care for up to 75 students a day, they are also part social worker, counselor, and teacher. They cover a range of medical responsibilities in a normal day—from communicating with students, faculty, parents, and healthcare providers to providing standard care and managing medications to noting every office visit and treatment while monitoring potential cases of COVID-19.

“There is no down time, it’s so fast-paced,” Oliveira said. “You have to roll with the punches, from dealing with a bloody nose to administering daily medications to emergencies. You always have to know what to do.”

During her rotation, Oliveira assisted the school nurses in any way she could, including screening students, answering phones, labeling and organizing Epi-pens and inhalers, filing paperwork, and documenting.

Oliveira chose a career in nursing “because I was inspired by the nurses who cared for two of my family members; I wanted to help others just like they did.” While she enjoys working with children (she is a babysitter and teaches at Motion The Dance Studio in Dartmouth), she loved her labor and delivery clinical and may pursue that specialty. She hasn’t ruled out school nursing, though.

“Morgan is a great student who always works hard. She will be an asset as a nurse when she graduates!” said her clinical professor Suzanne Lopes.

In addition to teaching ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop to children and adults, Oliveira is a Dean’s and Chancellor’s List student and a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. She was awarded the 2021 Massachusetts/Rhode Island League for Nursing (MARILN) RN Scholarship along with Cassandra Bonila ‘24.

“It has been great here at UMassD,” said Oliveira. “I love the nursing class. We all work together to help one another out. I like that it is close to home and I’ve had a lot of great experiences for my clinicals.”