Technology in Education: Critical UC Features for School Nurses

By Emily Arnold
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Communication is an integral part of the education system. Virtually every employee is required to communicate both internally and externally in some form or fashion, and each position has its own unique needs. Teachers keep parents up-to-date on their child’s progress, administrators relay school closings and delays to the media, and coaches coordinate with other schools to schedule games. The list could go on and on, but I want to focus on one very important position in particular – the school nurse.

Being a school nurse is no small feat. They are often responsible for the health and well being of hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of students. In an emergency, school nurses are quick to the scene and sometimes put in a position to make split-second, life-saving decisions. Without the proper communication strategy in place, school nurses and other staff members can find themselves unprepared in dangerous situations. Thankfully, schools who utilize Unified Communications (UC) help to lessen this risk.

Think about this. When you try to find contacts in your mobile phone that you have not set as a favorite, how long does it normally take you to find the one you are looking for? If you are like me, it takes a little while. Now, imagine yourself taking care of an unconscious child while finding a contact. Those few moments suddenly seem like an eternity. Now imagine not even having the phone number you need stored and having to physically go get the phone number from a student’s file or access it from the internet. It’s scary to think about. When nurses are handling life-threatening accidents or illnesses, they don’t have that extra time to try to find emergency phone numbers and dial them. Instead, they need immediate access to important numbers, such as the school superintendent, emergency services, or a student’s emergency contact. One way to address this issue is by utilizing IP phones with rapid-dial contact buttons. These allow nurses to save emergency numbers right on their desk phone and allow them to dial with the touch of a button. By streamlining emergency processes, nurses are able to devote more time to student-patient care instead of fumbling through a long list of contacts looking for the right one to call.

While a nurse is able to diffuse many crises in her office, accidents can happen all across campus. If you have ever ridden a playground merry-go-round, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If a nurse receives a phone call from a teacher stating a child has been hurt and cannot be moved, the nurse must immediately leave post. UC systems, such as Switchvox, feature mobility solutions that allow nurses to keep the conversation going with the teacher while they are en route. With the press of a button, nurses can smoothly transition from their desk phone to their mobile phone and stay abreast of the situation until they are on the scene.

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With nurses continually being in and out of their offices, it can be hard for other staff members to keep up with them. With UC, nurses can set their contact status to “Away” or “On Mobile”. This is especially helpful for teachers who need to send students to their office to be examined. By knowing the nurse is in his or her office, they can rest assured the child will be taken care of immediately rather than having to come back to the classroom because the nurse is out. To take this useful feature a step further, the Switchvox Softphone allows teachers who are not in traditional classrooms to easily see if the nurse is out of office just by glancing at their mobile phones. PE teachers love this feature!

School nurses handle a unique set of information apart from the rest of the school, and because of this, they have parents, teachers, doctors, nurse practitioners, and administrators all trying to get in touch with them on a regular basis. This can result in a heavy amount of call traffic, especially during cold and flu season. It makes sense for nurses to have their own extension so that receptionists do not have to handle the vast number of calls coming in specifically for nurses. Additionally, by having an exclusive extension, nurses can have their own private voicemail system. This enable callers to rest assure their private information is only being heard by the nurse. With Switchvox, IT staff can easily add additional extensions and enable nurses to begin safeguarding patient information in no time.

As you can see, school nurses have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. They take care of students when they have tummy aches after lunch, break their arms on the playground, or go into anaphylactic shock when someone brings peanuts into the classroom. No matter the situation, school nurses are there to help, and having the proper communications technology is imperative to helping them do their job to the best of their abilities.

 

To learn more about how Unified Communications solutions benefit all employees and improve schools, download this free Switchvox for Education eBook

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About the Author

Emily Arnold

Emily is the Product Marketing Specialist for Digium. In this role, she helps to develop demand generation programs for products that enable custom communication solutions built on open source Asterisk, as well as assist in driving awareness for Digium’s partner program. Prior to joining Digium in 2013, Emily worked with engineering and e-commerce companies to develop their SEO, social media, and content strategies. She graduated with honors from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a BSBA in Management and Marketing.

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