NEWBERRY — A conversation with her son about career choices led to a second degree and new calling for Tricia Ulch, who returned to college and changed from being a school psychologist professional into a nurse.
“We were talking careers and Tyler (now a senior at Mid-Carolina High) asked me about figuring what he wanted to be when he grew up,” she said. “I told him if I had it to do over I would have been a nurse. He responded, well, momma, why don’t ya?”
Within two weeks, Ulch enrolled at Newberry College and joined the first cohort of nursing students there.
She became one of the first nursing students to finish Newberry College’s program which, for her, included a nurse fellowship at Lexington Medical Center and included a nurse residency program.
Ulch worked in an ER for a year and had not intended to leave Lexington Medical until she heard of a school nurse opening.
She had worked for the district’s psychologist department before she went back to school to become a nurse and realized that her new skills and older contacts were leading her in a new career direction as school nurse for Whitmire Community School.
Though she loved that position and the faculty, staff and students she worked with there, Ulch felt a tug when she saw an opening for the district director of nursing last year.
She saw the importance of having a direct impact on a local school but she also realized that organizational skills and team-related skills she used while a student at Newberry College as a student nursing organization leader and as a Breakthrough to Nursing Director for South Carolina would be of use to the district in a position that had a district-wide impact on school health and nursing initiatives.
She applied and now the 12 nurses in the Newberry County School District have a new director this fall.
Though Ulch officially began her position last April, this is her first full school year working to coordinate nursing efforts district wide and provide support services to NCSD nurses.
On average, she said, she saw between 20 to 30 students in her nursing room at WCS on a given day. Priority one for all the NCSD nurses is the child in the health room, but there is more to the job than that task.
Documentation, helping implement individual health care plans, calling doctors in some cases and/or calling parents and conducting screenings for hearing and vision are but a few of the tasks nurses juggle during a school day.
Ulch coordinates health services throughout the district, coordinates and conducts OSHA and first responder training, submits grants for health initiatives and works with a team to assist in revising, developing and updating district health policies and procedures for school health services.
Ulch also attends state meetings and then does staff development training with the information she learns there.
“We have a great team of nurses, including secretary Wendy Long who is the glue who keeps the department together,” she said. “I would have never taken this job without (that team). When they say it takes a village, I don’t think it was just for raising children.”
Ulch said she and her team of 12 school nurses are looking forward to working with the students, parents, faculty and staff to make 2014-15 a healthy, productive, beneficial year for the community.