A Nurse Trip A Day Keeps the Classes Away


Sara Beth Cimowsky

Nurse West is located on the second floor past the library.

Most people only visit the north side of the second floor to go the library. Very few venture past that to get to our very own Nurse Lalena West. As a school nurse, she sees all walks of life, which is one of her favorite parts about the job.

For nursing training, West attended Wichita Area Technical School in Wichita, Kan. She says that ever since she was in high school, she knew she wanted to work with teens. As she got older she realized that having flexible work hours and being able to help people would be ideal, which drew her to nursing. When she moved to Atlanta in January 2010, the nursing hiring agency she contracted with sent her to Atlanta Public Schools. She spent the first nine months at an elementary school and then started at North Atlanta. “I really enjoy teens. I love how fun and full of life they are,” West said.

Her favorite part of the job is being able to help kids with both their medical and emotional problems. Along with that come the joys associated with seeing the latest fashion trends, and watching fun school-wide events like homecoming and prom. “And around here I’m way more popular than I was back in my high school days,” she said.

While she has a very important role in keeping kids safe, some seem to believe her sole purpose is to give kids a chance to get out of class. According to West, more than 90 percent of the visits she receives are somewhat questionable stories used as an endeavor to get out of class even just for a few minutes. Whether it is geometry, history, or biology, most kids do their best to escape the trials of the class in order to see the nurse.

West uses her medical and psychological wisdom to know when to redirect kids back to where they should be. That said, there are very legitimate medical issues she contends with. Students can come to her about anxiety or bullying issues. With high school being so tough she does her best to not dismiss them. “Because the reasoning behind coming to the nurse is so varied most anything is a legit reason,” she said. “I speak to anyone who comes here to be a support.”

Despite the amount of students that visit the nurse for band-aids, it is comforting to know we have a capable medical professional here to support and nurture the North Atlanta community if anything was to happen.