Deb Dvorsky: Helping Kids Stay Healthy in School
Alumna works as school nurse, precepts Decker students
Decker Connect asked alumna Deborah “Deb” Dvorsky ’82 what led her down her current career path, what she thought when her daughter enrolled at her alma mater and how to help kids stay healthy this winter.
How long have you been a school nurse?
I have been a school nurse teacher for the Binghamton City School District for 23 years.
What is a typical day like?
I assess, plan, provide interventions for and evaluate students’ health concerns and/or injuries. I am mandated by New York State to screen each student for height, weight, vision and hearing. I am currently rescreening students who did not have a passing outcome for either vision or hearing or who were absent when screenings were done in the early fall. I then notify parents/guardians when further medical attention is needed for a student with a health concern, injury or a failed screening. I also have students with chronic diseases that need case management and education.
Why did you go into nursing?
I wanted to be a nurse since I was 7 years old. My grandmother lived with my family and had some chronic health issues, such as asthma and arthritis. As a young child, I wished I could have done something to ease her discomfort.
Why did you pick the Decker School?
I attended Decker due to its reputation as an excellent school for nursing and to also complete my goal of receiving a bachelor’s degree in nursing. I graduated from Broome Community College in the RN program in 1974.
Why are you a preceptor for undergraduate students at Decker? What is your role as preceptor?
I have been a preceptor for the Decker School of Nursing since the early 1980s when I was a labor and delivery nurse at Lourdes Hospital. I felt it was one way I could give back to the nursing program. My role is to give each nursing student a good experience in school nursing.
What changes have you seen in Decker students over time?
The biggest change I have seen in the nursing students is that many have come from another career to nursing. There also seem to be more males entering the nursing profession.
What surprises you most about students entering Decker?
I think what sets DSON students apart is their drive, positive energy and motivation to make a difference in people’s lives.
When your daughter, Allison Manning, said she was interested in going into nursing what were your thoughts? Did you encourage her to go to DSON?
When Allison informed my husband and I that she wanted to enter the nursing profession we were surprised, but elated. She always had a caring personality and a drive to succeed since she was young.
I did encourage her to apply to Binghamton University for several reasons. I feel that the Decker School is an excellent program that gives its students a wide range of nursing experiences; I also think the nursing instructors are approachable and caring toward their students. I’ve seen many Decker graduate nurses in a hospital setting who were outstanding in their nursing practice.
What advice do you have for nursing students interested in pursuing school nursing?
School nursing is a challenging and rewarding experience. Most school nurses work in a setting where they are the only nurse in the building. I worked in a hospital setting for 20 years before I became a school nurse. In the hospital I was surrounded by other nurses who could give me guidance and support as I cared for my patients. It was an adjustment working in a school where I was the only nurse to care for approximately 500 students. I did not have another nurse in the building to ask for guidance. I was able to phone other nurses in the district to ask for advice; I also contacted my colleagues who worked with pediatric patients for advice. This type of communication is not the same as having another nurse working alongside you to give you guidance.
My previous hospital experience gave me a good foundation in my nursing assessments and skills. Therefore, I feel future school nurses should have some previous nursing experience to prepare them to work independently. They should also have confidence as a nurse. School nurses should be very organized because the nurse is also a medical records person. The nurse must also meet the state’s mandates of screenings and immunization compliance. The school nurse not only cares for the students, but also for the staff. Staff often have health questions and look to me for answers or direction. In addition, the school nurse has to have excellent rapport with the students’ families. The families need to feel their children are being cared for and are trusting in your abilities as a nurse.