Feb 19, 2014, 10:00 AM, Posted by Elizabeth Dickson
Elizabeth Dickson, MSN, RN, is a fellow in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative at University of New Mexico. Earlier in her career, she worked at a school-based health center (SBHC). This post is part of the “Health Care in 2014” series.
As a public health nurse, I have worked with children in schools for much of my career. From 2009 until 2013, I worked at a SBHC in New Mexico that was located in an alternative high school in southern Albuquerque. Although small, many students at this school came from families of mixed immigration status and had experienced high levels of street violence, alcohol and drug abuse and overdose, suicide, poverty and food scarcity, minimal health care access, and high teen pregnancy rates.
These kids saw and experienced more than many outsiders of the community could have imagined. The SBHC was open one day a week during school hours and employed a staff that included a nurse practitioner, a physician assistant, public health nurses, administrative staff, and mental health counselors. I worked with an incredible team that provided many health services and screenings, including mental health support, in the limited time that we had.