As nurse for both Duncombe Elementary and Riverside Early Learning Center, Ann Andersen spends her days caring for the children of Fort Dodge.
Andersen has been a nurse in the Fort Dodge Community School District for 16 years. She spent four years first at Fair Oaks Middle School before transferring to the elementary schools.
During that time, Andersen has seen many changes in the state of childrens' health.
"I see a lot more health problems with kids than I did when I started," she said. "A lot more chronic problems, asthma, different things. Lots of different medications, lots of different needs you wouldn't think the kids would have, but it's changed over the years."
Alternating between two schools, Andersen's duties include more than swabbing scraped knees and dispensing aspirin.
"I have to make sure every child has an immunization record and they are up to date," she said. "We get audited every year by the Webster County Health Department, so we have to make sure all children are immunized."
Foremost, Andersen's duty is to take care of sick children.
"We do treatments, such as a nebulizer or insulin injections, peak-flow meters," she said. "And general health of all the kids. Injuries on the playground."
There are also times when Andersen has to go above and beyond.
"I got a little boy breakfast. He didn't have anything to eat," she said. "Lots of little things people don't realize. We just try to take care of the whole student, whether it's emotional or physical. It's a whole gamut of things."
Andersen most enjoys getting to know the students she helps every day and being there for them.
"A healthy child is a good student," she said. "If they don't feel good or they're hungry, or something's happened at home, it affects how they do at school. We are here to take care of them as a whole. We work with the counselors, the case managers, we try to keep a healthy environment for the kids and keep them healthy while they're at school so they can do well with their education."
There are hard days. More than once, Andersen has had students come to her with broken bones.
"The worst thing is when you can't get ahold of a parent in an emergency," she said. "They'll have a phone number, but we can't get ahold of someone if their child is sick."
Andersen has also faced health scares, among other things.
"I've had to call an ambulance," she said. "Otherwise, hopefully, we can take care of everything if we work together as a team. We work together with other nurses, bounce things off of each other."
Working with others, there have also been good days.
"A couple of weeks ago a little boy that has some health needs, he came to the office and he had gone up four reading levels in one day because he was getting the help he needs," Andersen said. "He's doing better. I feel like I was a part of that, because we make sure he's doing okay at school. If you put your heads together, the student's going to succeed."
She added, "A great day is when everybody is happy and healthy and in school."
According to Andersen, school nurses are important.
"The kids need to be healthy to do well in their education," she said. "We have a good coverage of school nurses in this district, which is nice. I can be here for the kids and they can have a nurse to come to."