Marion Boulanger has worked for the Resource Centre as a URIS nurse for over two years and offers an insightful glimpse into the daily work of URIS nurses. The educator nurses conduct school visits for students managing special health conditions. They also conduct educational sessions on the 13 health conditions covered by the URIS program. URIS nurses consult with other health care providers in the management of a student’s health care needs. URIS is a provincial program that supports children who require assistance with health care needs while attending community programs, including licensed childcare facilities, and schools with their delivered services.
The Resource Centre’s dedicated URIS nurses are designated to service 44 First Nations schools. Each URIS nurse is assigned 11–13 schools. Upon arrival in a First Nation, the nurse coordinates with the local school’s resource teacher, setting aside time to plan their visit. Post-meeting, they update student health care plans or schedule appointments with students and their parents or caregivers. URIS nurses work extensively with resource teachers, classroom educators, educational assistants, support staff (e.g., cooks, custodians and maintenance staff, school bus drivers, Jordan’s Principle staff, Child and Family Services staff), training them in the needs of the student and the student’s emergency response plan. These plans equip educational and support staff to recognize signs and symptoms of a student’s health conditions so they can respond appropriately during emergencies or when aiding with medication.
Boulanger says she has a lot of work to do as soon as she hits the ground in a community. “We may be scheduled to deliver teaching sessions on one or more of the usual 13 health conditions affecting some students. Our teaching sessions may be one-on-one, or in small or larger groups of school staff. The school staff may request we meet with parents or caregivers who have children with other health conditions not covered by the URIS program, and then we assist with student health care. Our school visit ends with a report and leaving documentation required to ensure the student is properly taken care of. We then do follow-up work that may require communication and consultation with other health care providers to meet the student’s health care needs.”
Following their school visits, URIS nurses engage in comprehensive documentation, compiling clinical notes and summaries detailing their visits. Subsequently, they undertake follow-up, often requiring consultation with other health care workers to fulfill the student’s health care requirements.
Although there is a wide range of situations across the many First Nations the Resource Centre services, Boulanger says the URIS nurses see many of the same concerns over and over. “The most common health conditions encountered include anaphylaxis, asthma, diabetes type 1 and 2, seizure disorders, cardiac conditions, bleeding disorders, gastrostomy care, and ostomy care. Additionally, URIS covers other conditions such as pre-set oxygen, steroid-dependent conditions, oral/nasal suctioning, clean intermittent catheterization, and imperfect osteogenesis.”
Boulanger shared a story that underscored the significance of her work: “A parent expressed gratitude for finalizing her daughter’s health care plan, noting how URIS services had significantly enhanced her daughter’s plan when she first entered school. Promoting trusting and strong working relationships with school staff, parents and caregivers, and students is crucial. We integrate our Indigenous values and adhere to the Seven Sacred Teachings in our practice.” She adds, URIS nurses at the Resource Centre find their work incredibly fulfilling, consistently receiving expressions of appreciation from school staff, parents, caregivers, and students through positive verbal and written feedback.