Why I Love My Job: Sally Vandenbos, RN, MPH, NCSN

By Laura Raines, Pulse editor

Job: Consulting nurse, Cobb County public schools

Sally Vandenbos is a consulting nurse with Cobb County public schools.  Barry Williams/AJC Special.

Sally Vandenbos is a consulting nurse with Cobb County public schools. Barry Williams/AJC Special.


What I do: “I oversee the licensed school nurses in 18 to 20 schools in Cobb County. A good part of my week is spent visiting schools and training new nurses, teachers and staff.

“Teachers have a lot on their plates, so when I schedule training about diabetes or asthma, the reaction is often, ‘Oh, not another training.’

“Later they say, ‘I didn’t know that.’ It gets them thinking about how to help their students in other ways.

“School nurses handle the day-to-day illnesses and emergencies. I’m here as another pair of eyes, a backup, and I put systems in place to help their jobs go smoother.”

What got me interested in this: “I was an ICU hospital nurse in New Jersey [and] found that a school nurse schedule worked better after I had children. I discovered I loved pediatrics.

“When I moved to Georgia in 1989, nurses weren’t in the schools, so I worked in public health and pharmaceutical research. I became part of the Cobb County pilot program to put a licensed nurse in every school in the late ’90s.

“A school nurse is the person to care for children when mom isn’t there. You have to handle every medical situation, and also be proactive in making sure the playground is safe and staff members are trained in CPR and how to use an AED [automated external defibrillator].”

Best part of the job: “I get to do something different every day. I enjoy going to the different schools and seeing the growth in my nurses. I may teach a diabetic child how to give himself a shot, or sit with a family to devise a health plan.

“I love the teaching part of this job. When we teach hand-washing, teeth-brushing and other good hygiene habits, we’re planting seeds for a healthy lifestyle.”

Most challenging part: “Contacting parents and trying to get the right care for the kids. Making sure they get to the right doctor for follow-up and that parents understand the importance of getting a signed doctor’s form so that we can give medication is challenging sometimes.”

What people don’t know about my job: “School nursing is not just about Band-Aids. We have 245 diabetic children and kids with other chronic illnesses.

“We push to get things done, to keep children healthy. We’re a support
 system, so that kids don’t slip through the cracks.”

What keeps me going: “I always wake up ready to go. It’s a busy job, but I love it. I tell my nurses that their job is like a hot air balloon — they can soar to any height, but sometimes they have to go where the wind takes them.”

Preparation needed: “You need to be an experienced registered nurse, with either LPN or BSN training. BSN is preferred.”

Salary range: About $18 to $20 per hour for school nurses; $40 to $50 an hour for consulting nurses.

One comment Add your comment

Don Maier

August 15th, 2010
5:53 pm

I had no idea how much was involved in your job. I like the advise you gave to your nurses “their job is like a hot air balloon — they can soar to any height, but sometimes they have to go where the wind takes them.”
This is my little sister, and I am very proud of her and love her very much. Go get em sis!
(Not quite your biggest brother… Don)