No such thing as a ‘typical day’ for school-based nurse

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There’s no such thing as a typical day for school-based youth health nurse Chris Coleborn – and she wouldn’t change a thing.

“I can come to work with a plan for the day and that can go out the window, which is okay as it’s all about me being a support to the students, and working with their teachers and families when needed,” she said.

“It’s really a social model of nursing, not a medical model. I don’t do first aid!

“It’s a bit hard to describe my job. I guess I’m a trusted adult, a go-to person who can help the students form positive relationships and help guide and support them.

“I can often bring a sense of calmness to a heightened situation. It means I have to think on my feet and adapt to anything that happens.

“I offer one-on-one consults with young people on issues like relationship problems with friends, boy or girl friends or at home.

“My role is also to refer the young people to appropriate services, especially if longer-term support is needed.”

She said there was a lot of proactive work too on health promotion and education on things like healthy eating, Indigenous health, mental health and wellbeing, safe sex, alcohol and drugs risky behaviours.

“I work closely with classroom teachers and sometimes invite guest speakers in so the students get to hear from others on particular subjects.”

Mrs Coleborn has worked at Centenary Heights State High School and Toowoomba Flexi School for the past nine years following a three-year placement at Oakey State High.

She’s a warm and engaging nurse, and it’s evident she has a strong bond with students.

When we visited her at the flexi school, several students came up to her to say hi or share some exciting news about improved results.

“This is a part of the job that I really love and I really enjoy graduation time as I like to think I may have had just a small role in helping them overcome some struggles in the early years to then grow in confidence and go out into the big wide world and go okay,” she said.

“A lot of adolescents get a rough rap in the media, but life can be tough for a lot of kids who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“There is so much good in young people, I see it every day. It’s a real privilege to work with them.”

School-based youth health nurses are in place in all state high schools across the Darling Downs Health region.