The Nurse Will See You Now

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The Nurse Will See You Now

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Working with students has a lot of rewards, as any teacher could tell you, but it also has drawbacks. For FCHS nurse Melissa Hopkins, the same statement holds true. Only for her, the cons have a little less to do with student attitude, inattention, and grading, and a little more to do with overestimation.

“They think I can do a lot more than I actually can do… sometimes [I think] they think they are coming into a doctor’s office [and] I can tell them what is wrong. I can’t. I can’t look inside and do that,” said Hopkins. Diagnoses aren’t in a school nurse’s repertoire. All she can really do is provide basic first aid, give out pain relievers (meaning Tylenol), and call home.

Despite that, Hopkins loves her job. “The vacation time is good; I have two small kids, so it works out. I’m home with them in the morning to see them off to school, and I’m home in the evenings when they get home from school,” she said.

When asked her least favorite part of working for a school district, Hopkins was hesitant to answer, but when she did her reply was surprising. “I’m used to working in a very fast-paced environment,” she said, “and sometimes I have really slow days here. I have more free time than I’m used to.” Hopkins says she typically sees 35 to 40 students a day. That’s one student every ten-and-a-half minutes. Hopkins says she typically stops seeing students around 3:15, which is also when she stops handing out medication. It used to be at 3 pm, “But it keeps getting pushed back,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins previously worked for the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, where the pace and scope of the injuries she dealt with were very different from the ones she sees here. There she would have dealt with less mundane injuries, like “blood and guts stuff,” she said jokingly. At FCHS, the worst she has ever gotten is a deep cut or two and only one that she spoke of that warranted a trip to the hospital. The patient in question received a few stitches and some staples before being released.

Like many FCHS staff, Hopkins is an alumnus, having graduated in 1988. Hopkins is a certified LPN and received her nursing license and instruction from CATEC. And she isn’t the only person from her family working in the school district. Her sister, Melanie Harlowe, joined the staff in January when she took over the role of nursing instructor from Karen Grove.

Hopefully, you won’t ever have to see Ms. Hopkins. But if you do trip in gym or stumble on the stairs, you’re in good hands. After all, for someone who used to work in a women’s prison, a few scratches, scrapes, and bruises are nothing.