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SPOTLIGHT ON: SCHOOL NURSES

  • Updated
  • 5 min to read

A Q&A with the dedicated healthcare professionals at our neighboring schools

Arcadia High

Dorcas

Dorcas Guest-Nelson

How long have you been a nurse?

I have been a registered nurse since 2014 and have worked as a substitute nurse with the district since then. I did my community health internship here while I was in nursing school. I previously worked at Phoenix Children’s Hospital on the behavioral health unit and then became part of the district’s permanent nursing staff during the 2019 school year.

What is your favorite part of being a nurse?

Our students! I adore these teenagers, and they have great insight about how they see the world, which helps me really understand their points of view. Our health office is not just about physical ailments – sometimes our kids just need someone to talk to. I always try to ask students how school is going for them and what their current goals/plans are because our goal is to cultivate young healthy adults and to help them be successful. I have known some of the students since they were in diapers. Community is what Arcadia is all about.

What is the toughest part of the “new” environment?

The toughest part is having to make the “quarantine” calls and not being able to really talk to our students like we could before when they visited the health office. Fingers crossed things get back to some sense of normal one day soon.


Christ Lutheran School

Annette Gong

How long have you been a nurse?

I’ve worked as a nurse for 35 years. This is my 15th year at CLS.

What is your favorite part of being a nurse?

Working with the kids and making a difference.

What is the most difficult part of working in this “new” environment?

Not being able to see the kids’ smiles behind their masks and just seeing how COVID has affected them.


St. Thomas

Lisa Weisenburger

How long have you been a nurse?

I have been a nurse for over 30 years; I’ve worked both full and part time positions at St. Thomas for the past 15 years.

What is your favorite part of being a nurse?

It’s hard to have one favorite aspect of nursing. For me, the diversity in my career has been great. But along the way, my focus has always been wellness, ambulatory and health education – which fits perfectly great with being a school nurse. The kids are always amazing!

What has been the toughest part of being a nurse in the “new” environment?

The toughest part is the constantly changing requirements and information about the virus and trying to pivot and flex our health office response. It’s been incredibly tough.


Echo Canyon

Denise Nelson

How long have you worked as a nurse?

I have been a nurse for 24 years, school nurse for 14 years, and at Echo Canyon since August 2016.

What is your favorite part of being a nurse?

I chose to become a nurse after spending a great amount of time in the hospital with my daughter. I wanted to be able to provide the comfort, care and compassion to other people in their difficult times. The personal reward of helping other people is truly my favorite part of being a nurse.

What has been the toughest part about being a nurse in the “new” environment?

It’s similar to the everyday challenges of school nursing. The main objective of the school nurse is to keep students and staff healthy and safe by keeping current on health issues and providing care and information to families and staff. The toughest part now has to be the isolating and quarantining of students when I know that school is the best place for these children to be and how difficult it is on the parents as well.


Hopi Elementary

Ali Kasulaitis

How long have you worked as a nurse?

I’ve been a nurse for almost 11 years, but I just started working at Hopi last January.

What is your favorite part of being a nurse?

I love working with and helping kids. The things they tell me are so cute and funny.

What has been the toughest part about being a nurse in the “new” environment?

The hardest part is balancing out my “normal” school nurse duties and the additional COVID policies and procedures.


Ingleside Elementary

Rebecca Franson

How long have you worked as a nurse?

I have been a nurse for 11 years. I worked in labor and delivery before becoming a school nurse. This is my 7th year at Ingleside.

What is your favorite part of being a nurse?

It sounds cliché, but helping the students is my favorite part. I enjoy asking them questions and getting to know them.

What has been the toughest part about being a nurse in the “new” environment?

Figuring out the “rules.” Who was quarantined vs. isolated? How many days? When was the person last at school? Not every scenario fits into the “rules,” and of course in the beginning everything was changing rapidly. Now that I have figured the “rules,” it has been a little easier. In this COVID-19 environment, care for our patients has become more impersonal which saddens me. Without the personal touch, it is harder to create a trusting bond with the students.


St. Theresa

Beth Rons

How long have you worked as a nurse?

I have been the health and wellness coordinator at St. Theresa School since 2015.

What is your favorite part of being a nurse?

I love my job! I secretly always wanted to be the school nurse, ever since I returned to college in 2006 to get my nursing degree.

What has been the toughest part of being a nurse in the “new” environment?

The toughest part of my job during this time is slowing things down and paying attention to the small things. The kids are feeling the effects of this scary, uncertain time – they may need to just talk, instead of a Band-Aid. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to help calm their nerves.


Tavan Elementary

Jacqueline Arthur

How long have you worked as a nurse?

I have worked in the medical field for over 20 years. I have a B.S. in nursing and spent many years as a travel nurse as well as working in local hospitals here in the Valley. In 2015, I made the transition to working as a school nurse and have enjoyed every minute of it.

What is your favorite part of being a nurse?

Being able to wake up each day knowing I get to help others. Being able to do this in a school setting has been a rewarding experience because I get to work with hundreds of students and teachers that bring a smile to my face daily.

What challenges have you faced this year?

As a nurse your first instinct is to jump into action, however with the pandemic there are many safety procedures in place that are hard to explain to young kids. It is my goal to continue to support my students and staff. They may not be able to see my smile behind my mask, but I will always make sure they know I care. Please wear a mask – it will save lives!


Veritas Prep

Erika Nelson

How long have you worked as a nurse?

I’ve been a nurse for 24 years and been at Veritas Prep since September.

What is your favorite part of being a nurse?

My favorite part of nursing is caring for patients. I have always had a “servant’s heart” and have been willing to jump in and help when someone is in need. To be a good nurse you must care about others to be able to provide quality care.

What has been the toughest part about being a nurse in the “new” environment?

Being a nurse requires close contact with our patients, allowing us to assess a patient but also show without words how much you want to attend to their needs. In this COVID-19 environment, care for our patients has become more impersonal which saddens me. Without the personal touch, it is harder to create a trusting bond needed to help students deal with their medical needs.