My Name Is ... Jane Burkhardt

School nurse who brings light to dark places


‘We did amazing things’

My faith is important to me and everything stems from that. I see God in the eyes of children.

I started my nursing career in medical surgery, then I went to intensive care, then the emergency room. Nursing was a little easier back then -- we were better staffed.

In intensive care, I learned about the terrible things people do to each other. Shootings, stabbings, people beaten within an inch of their life.

We took everyone from within a hundred miles. We did amazing things. One guy was harvesting a field with a combine, and it broke, and he got out to fix it, and it fired back up and caught him by the legs. He was trapped out there and couldn’t reach the radio. Of all things, an insurance agent came by to visit, and found him and called 911. He survived, and he walked out of our hospital.

I learned to steel myself against awful things. It’s your job. As soon as you’re done, you can go in the bathroom and cry.

‘You might be the one who intervenes’

Now I’m a school nurse. I looked at it as a semi-retirement move, but it’s so much more. You might have a kid complaining of stomach aches, and you’re the first person to discover they haven’t eaten in three days. You might be the one who intervenes when something is way wrong at home. Those are the kids I worry about during COVID.

I love working with the kids. I’ve learned how resilient kids are, until they’re not. Adults will slow down because they’re not feeling good, but kids will keep going like crazy until they sit down and say they feel bad, and they’ve got a fever of 104.

Learning resiliency

For families that are struggling, we have a chance to educate them about the importance of coming to school, getting an education, making right choices. Those are patterns that develop early. I worry about the impact of prolonged shutdowns. It’s hard to learn social resiliency if you’re only learning online. It’s important to learn how to be out in the world away from mom and dad.

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