Susan Richards

A Day in the Life of Susan Richards, BSN, RN

May 11, 2022

By: Teresa DuChateau

Sue Richards has been a registered nurse for the past 35 years. She had just begun her role as a school nurse at the start of the 2019-2020 school year at Edgewood High School of the Sacred Heart. She was hired to work three to four hours a day, three days a week to provide health services to over 480 high school aged students. 

Edgewood High School had previously not had a school nurse. So, prior to the start of the pandemic Sue had been working to establish a nursing presence in the school community. During the fall of 2019, she had begun to focus on reviewing and developing school policies and procedures. 

School nurse sitting at her desk
Photo of desk with school nurse orientation binder

Sue had attended the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction New School Nurse Orientation in October 2019 and was prioritizing a list of activities and tasks that she wanted to work on during the 2019-2020 school year. COVID quickly put a pause on her to-do list.  

Sue had previously practiced as a Parish Nurse and is also trained as a Spiritual Director. She believes strongly in the power of active listening. Susan shared, "The mental and spiritual side of things is what called me here." Throughout the pandemic, Sue leaned heavily on her gift of being able to genuinely listen to another person as she shared with me in this interview clip.  

School nurse looking at computer screen smiling

During her first year at the school, in the midst of managing COVID, Sue worked hard to create a presence in the school community and connect with students and staff. She wrote a monthly column, "Healthy News with Nurse Sue" in the school's newsletter. Susan shared, "One of my favorite roles is featuring a member of our community in my "Healthy News with Nurse Sue". Here is our awesome kitchen director during National Nutrition week."

One of the questions asked of the school nurses during the interviews was, "Where did you find joy during the pandemic?" Sue shared a heartwarming activity that she created that engaged the school staff and kept them connected during the time that they were virtual. 

School nurse leaning over to talk with student

As the daily responsibilities associated with managing the pandemic start to decline, Sue is grateful for an opportunity to provide non-COVID related nursing services to students. Sue provides this student with over-the-counter medication. School nurses write policies and procedures that allow for the administration of common over-the-counter medications with parental permission. Being able to provide this intervention for students assists the students in being able to manage minor health complaints and remain in school. 

A student stopped in to see Sue and have her blood pressure checked. Having a nurse in a school allows for a student to have a health concern monitored while at school. Additionally, a school nurse's education and training frequently alerts them to a student's underlying health concern that had previously been undiagnosed. 
School nurse taking student's blood pressure
School nurse showing a student how to use an at-home COVID test

Providing resources and education is a core role of a school nurse. Sue meets with a student to teach her how to use an at-home COVID test. 

Sue checks in with the School President, Michael Elliott, who had advocated for the position of a school nurse. Sue states,
"Staying connected daily has been so life giving. I am blessed with the best administration that a school nurse could ask for. We had never had a school nurse, I had never been a school nurse but the respect that I was given and the love that I felt from our community (administration, staff, faculty, students, and families) has been beyond measure."
School nurse talking with school president

Thoughts on project

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