Muriel Comick, RN, handles routine and unexpected medical issues for high school-age student at Perkins School for the Blind. In this “What I Do” blog post, she discusses why sharing medical knowledge with students is just as important as providing healthcare. This story was compiled and edited by Stefanie Cloutier.
On a typical day I come in at 7:30 a.m. and check in at the (residential) cottages to see how things are going and if there’s something medical I should know about. Students will share more while I’m casually passing through.
I’ve been here at Perkins for 10 years in October. It has been a great learning experience for me, along with being fun and rewarding working with such great students and staff.
It’s been amazing seeing students’ progress from one cottage to another (as they get older). They know the expectations are bumped up, and it’s great seeing their skills advance. They really rise to the expectations and want to know about their diseases, medications and health.
In my office in the Howe Building, when the door is open, students will pop in randomly. Some have questions from health ed class that they’re not comfortable discussing with teachers or in front of peers. We’ve talked about STDs, drug abuse, whatever. No question is off the table. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll say, “Let’s look it up together.” It’s really enjoyable.
Nurses at Perkins do more than just distribute Band-Aids and Tylenol. We can deal with any type of possible illness and emergencies, and get questions about any medications. Many of our students are really complex. Some require G-tube feeding (feeding through a tube directly to the stomach), so you need to watch for irritation at the G-tube site, amongst other medical concerns. There’s a lot of teaching with staff and students. We teach students how to self-administer eye drops, or teach diabetic students to give themselves insulin and test their blood sugar.
We also teach students the little things you need to teach someone who is blind, like how to open a Band-Aid and how to apply it. These are things we take for granted in a sighted world.
Learning how to go to the doctor is also worked on. I work with students helping them make appointments. They come to Health Services and I work with them to mimic what they would do in a doctor’s office. It’s rewarding to see them blossom, from being passive and having someone do it for them, to advocating for themselves. I tell my students I expect great things from them. I know that they can do it.