Suzanne Brinkman

A Day in the Life of
Suzanne Brinkman, BSN, RN

   May 11, 2022

   By: Teresa DuChateau

Suzanne Brinkman is a seasoned school nurse, having worked as a registered nurse for the past 26 years, 21 of those years as a school nurse in the Boscobel Area School District. She works four days a week and oversees the health of 738 students. Suzanne's years of experience were definitely evident as I witnessed her simultaneously and effortlessly juggling numerous tasks and responsibilities throughout the day. Suzanne spent her day completing tasks on her "to-do list", administering scheduled medications, and assessing the needs of students who made their way to the health room. 

While interviewing the school nurses I asked them to describe a typical day in the life of a school nurse. Suzanne's response captures what I heard from many of the nurses and what I witnessed during my time with the nurses.  

School nurse completing a vision screen on elementary student

One of the items on Suzanne's "to-do list" was to complete vision screenings on students who had recently transferred into the district. Suzanne was grateful that she was able to complete her yearly vision and hearing screenings this year. Many school nurses did not have the time, nor the resources to complete annual student health screenings the past two years due to the fact that they were managing the district's COVID prevention and mitigation strategies in addition to spending hours contact tracing.

There was rarely a moment when Suzanne's office was empty. Between students coming to the health room for their daily medication and injury and illness complaints, Suzanne was constantly on the move. Below, Suzanne assesses a student's foot to determine if further medical evaluation is warranted and spends some time connecting with a student who she sees daily for medication administration. 

School nurse examining a child's foot
School nurse smiling at student

Suzanne's workload during COVID became so overwhelming that the school administration came to Suzanne and suggested that they provide her with a temporary health paraprofessional, Ms Rosauer. Suzanne gladly accepted the additional help. Ms. Rosauer's
position was extended for the 2021-2022 school year.
School nurse talking with health para in nurse's office

As Suzanne was managing health room visitors she was also wrapping up last minute planning for an out-of-state field trip to Florida that was leaving the next morning. This required her to go over to the high school to meet with the band and choir teachers who would be accompanying the students on the trip. An out-of-state field trip requires dozens of hours of planning, training, and more planning as the school staff chaperoning the trip need to be educated, trained, and signed off on medication administration policies, procedures, and protocols. In addition, a binder of paperwork, which include all the necessary student health and medication paperwork, needs to be gathered and organized. 

School nurse meeting with band and choir teacher

   School nurse meeting with student with diabetes

While at the high school Suzanne checked in with a student with diabetes to provide care coordination as the student meets with a paraprofessional and talks on the phone with a parent. As Suzanne is not at the high school on a daily basis, she needs to ensure that there are staff who are educated and trained to assist students with medication and health needs including health emergencies. 

School nurse looking into student's throat using flashlight

Upon her return to the elementary school, the students continued coming to the health room. Suzanne was trying to get a peek at the student's tooth as she was complaining of dental pain. 

Suzanne determined what she saw when examining the student's mouth warranted a call to the child's parent. She checks the student's temperature to ensure that she doesn't have a fever while talking with the student's parent and sharing her findings and recommendations for further medical care. 

School nurse taking student's temperature and talking on the phone
School injuries don't automatically receive a Band-Aid or an ice pack. School nurses use their assessment skills to ensure that the injury is only minor, especially head injuries. Suzanne completes a brief neurological assessment on a student who took a ball to the head in physical education class and then sits and chats with him while he uses an ice pack to relieve some of the discomfort. 

School nurse assessing a student's balance

School nurse talks with a student who injured his head

After spending the day with Suzanne, I wasn't surprised to learn that her experience and expertise were sought out during the pandemic, especially since she had developed a Pandemic Flu Plan years previously as she describes in this interview clip. 

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