In a world of increasing teen-pregnancy and suicide... the role of school nurse is also ever-changing.
"Teachers are not equipped and don't have the staff to handle it and so the school nurse winds up being the one that's there to make sure these students get the help they need or to refer out," said Pam Mezzinam, Program Coordinator for Big Bend Hospice's Caring Tree Program.
"We see a wide variety of problems that are occurring.. more chronic disease, more autism, just emotional issues those kinds of things," said Leila Thompson, Madison County Health Department's Senior LPN for the School Health Program.
And that's why school nurses and aides from across the Big Bend took part in a program that teaches them the well-rounded skills they need.
During the Leon County Health Department's annual in-service training, local nurses learn how to take on a variety of issues like grief counseling and suicide to abuse and addiction.
"A lot of times it's the nurse or the school health aide who's working in the clinic who notices that first," said Nancy Cooper, Community Health Nursing Supervisor and School Health Coordinator for the Leon County Health Department.
"A lot of times you see a lot of stomach aches that might not be you know something viral at all. It could be school phobia or changes in the household," said Leila Thompson.
Nurses and aides from at least eight counties in the Big Bend took part in today's training.
Those who took part in the program say it helped them become better advocates not only for students' health and well-being... but also their safety.