Kimberly Hess

A Day in the Life of Kimberly Hess, BSN, RN

May 11, 2022
By: Teresa DuChateau

Kimberly Hess began her school nursing journey during the midst of COVID, having started in the fall of 2021. Kimberly has been a registered nurse for five years and accepted a position that services two school districts, Glendale-River Hills and Maple Dale-Indian Hills. Between the two districts she oversees the health of about 1,200 students. At Kimberly's two elementary and two middle schools she supervises two full-time health aides and two full-time secretaries. The day I visited her she was working in the Glendale-River Hills school district. 

Kimberly has a unique perspective on school nursing, as she has only experienced working as a school nurse during a pandemic. She shared with me what this time has been like for her in this interview clip. 

Kimberly and I started out the day at the elementary school where she was partnering with the school counselor to teach third graders about germs, a very timely topic. For many school nurses, having the opportunity to go into the classroom and provide health education is a highlight of their role. As Kimberly describes it, "Teaching kids that germs 'absolutely, positively do NOT like soap!' using a simple pepper-and-soap trick."

After teaching two 3rd grade classes, Kimberly headed over to the middle school where she was visited by multiple middle schoolers. Some weren't feeling well and needed a short rest, others were stopping into the health room for their daily medication. That morning, the health room was rarely empty. 

School nurse walking in room with two students lying on cots
School nurse in health office managing the care of multiple students while talking on the telephone
School nurse sitting at desk with two students standing in front of desk

A significant component of the school nurse's role is establishing trusting relationships with students. It was evident, by the number of students that visited the health room that day, that Kimberly and her health secretary, Eve Rhodes, are trusted resources in the school community.

In the Glendale-River Hills School District Kimberly is fortunate to work with two full-time health secretaries who assist with nursing tasks such as medication administration and a daily medication inventory count of medications that are classified as controlled substances. Since health aides are considered unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP), they follow policies, procedures, and protocols developed by the school nurse. 

Health secretary completing medication count
Health secretary retrieving medication from cabinet

Having health secretaries available to respond to the health needs of students that come to the health room allows Kimberly to focus on the more complex health needs of students. Kimberly talks with a student about how their day is going as she administers their daily g-tube feeding. 

School nurse administering tube feeding via gravity syringe
School nurse sitting at desk listening to student
Sometimes, all a student requires is a listening ear who can validate their feelings. Schools are filled with empathetic, caring adults who provide that connection for students. For a great number of students, that person is the school nurse. 
School nurse leaning forward looking at student and listening intently
Picture of woman talking on cellular phone

In addition to witnessing Kimberly engage in meaningful, intentional conversations with students, Kimberly was frequently connecting with parents on the telephone. Kimberly describes this photo, "You can see six electronic devices being worked with here, but still doing the same thing as we've always done through the decades: talking to families, staying connected, and being a resource and bridge for their needs."

As Kimberly enters the second half of her first year in school nursing, she reflects on her hopes for the future of the profession. 

For questions regarding 
A Day in the Life: A Photo Essay of the Wisconsin School Nurses and the COVID-19 Pandemic, please contact the Project Director, Teresa DuChateau, at

Thoughts on project