By Josh LaBella
Board of Education Nursing Supervisor Donna Kosiorowski is retiring after what she called “a great 25 years.”
The supervisor started her career as a nurse in Rapid City, South Dakota where he husband was serving in the Air Force. They later moved to Boston and lived there for several years before returning to her hometown of Shelton – where she worked at Griffin Hospital.
Kosiorowski got her start as a nursing supervisor at a school in Shelton and got the position in West Haven after a 10-year tenure there. She said when she first got to her job in the city she was intimidated due to a lack of familiarity with her staff but it quickly subsided.
“I made the transition over here and never looked back,” said Kosiorowski. “The district has been wonderful.”
According to Kosiorowski, while many people think being a school nurse is a “cushy” job, there has been a tremendous change in school nursing over the past 35 years she has worked as one.
“In a hospital you have people that can help you,” said Kosiorowski. “You have other nurses, you have doctors – you’re never alone. In a school, the nurse is the only health care provider. If you don’t know what to do; it’s a problem.”
Kosiorowski said school nurses have to know a lot about everything. She said they are responsible for understanding a myriad of medical syndromes, conditions and practices for people from the ages of 3 to 21.
“We do have kids who have complicated and, sometimes, severe issues,” Kosiorowski said. “We have to be ready to do whatever it is we need to do to make sure they are safe and that their family feels comfortable too.”
The challenges of the job, Kosiorowski said, are making sure all the students are safe and ensuring the nurses feel supported.
School nurses, she said, are critical to keeping students healthy, in class and learning. Kosiorowski said she has a great respect for her colleagues.
Kosiorowski said one of her favorite parts of her tenure in West Haven has been the four superintendents she has worked under, who she says have always been very supportive of the nurses.
“The administrative support that the nurses and I get here is not something you are going to find everywhere,” said Kosiorowski.
She said she also looks back fondly on her time with the other nurses and the students that she worked with.
Kosiorowski said she follows a mantra that while many things such as: her wealth, what house she lived in or what car she drove, won’t matter a hundred years from now, one thing will – being important in the life of a child.
As the government relations chairman for the Association of School Nurses of Connecticut, Kosiorowski tracks laws and policy to keep her association apprised of changes in nursing practice.
Looking forward, Kosiorowski said she is not ready to “fade into the sunset” and believes there is still work for her to do. She said in retirement she still has a lot to offer the school system but plans on doing other work as well.
“I also have an opportunity to teach school nurses throughout the country,” said Kosiorowski.
Kosiorowski will continue her work with the professional associations she is a member of. The way she puts it: “I have a lot of irons in the fire.”