At Akron Children’s, our compassionate and skilled nursing team is what makes us special. In this continuing blog series, we introduce you to the nurses who make a difference every day in the lives of kids.
Heather Edwards works as the district nurse for Woodridge Local Schools. As part of Akron Children’s school-based health services team, she serves as an advocate for student health and wellness and helps manage students’ medical needs in the school setting.
“I’m passionate about helping students succeed in school regardless of any health barriers they may face,” said Heather.
Through her role, she administers first-aid, medications and treatments; addresses emergency situations; and manages both the acute and chronic health needs of students in Woodridge’s elementary, middle and high school buildings. Ultimately, she’s responsible for the district’s 1,800 students. She also provides education and resources about wellness and disease prevention (including running flu vaccine and dental clinics).
“School nurses do so much for student care,” said Heather. “For many students, a school nurse may be the only health care professional they see regularly. We can help connect them to providers, offer health education and promote wellness.”
As a mom to 2 adult children, Heather said being a parent helps her understand the struggles families go through.
“I know how hard it is to be a parent, and I also know how hard it can be to be a kid,” she said. “School nursing can be a wonderful support for the whole family. My role includes caring not only for students but also being a resource for families and the community.”
An avid runner (she’s run 13 marathons!), Heather also likes to do yoga, hike and paddle board in her free time.
“Exercise and getting outdoors help me handle the stressors that come with nursing. They’re part of my self-care routine,” she said. “Work/life balance is incredibly important to me. It’s what initially attracted me to school health because I have summers off. This schedule enables me to have the balance that I need.”
One of her most fulfilling moments on the job was being able to bring COVID vaccine clinics to Woodridge.
“We were the first of Akron Children’s districts to offer the vaccine clinic in our schools,” said Heather. “It was a tremendous amount of work, but it demonstrated our partnership, collaboration and commitment to serving our school community.”
Heather joined Akron Children’s in 2010, because she was drawn to working with kids.
“I stay for that reason along with so many others,” she said. “I find my work rewarding and meaningful. I absolutely love what I do each day.”
She also appreciates the support she gets from her team and clinic staff, as well the hospital administration, which has allowed her to grow in her career.
“Akron Children’s is an amazing organization with opportunities for professional growth,” said Heather, who used the hospital’s tuition reimbursement program to go back to school for her MSN. “I’d encourage nurses to take advantage of the educational reimbursement funds, to participate in Care Ladder and to get certified in their specialty area of practice.”