by Vickie Jenkins, Staff Writer
With a bubbly personality and a beautiful smile is Tijuana Raphel, RN, who is a school nurse at an Oklahoma City Public middle school. Being a nurse for seventeen years, Tijuana has worked in a variety of medical setting over the years. “My first job as a nurse was at Baptist Hospital. I guess you could say that I took the long route in the medical field,” she said with a laugh. “I started as a Unit Clerk, then Nurse Tech, LPN and graduated as an RN in 2004. I strongly believe that the long route made me a well-rounded nurse. I have worked every clinical area within the hospital; medical surgical, mom-baby, pediatrics and psychology. I worked in Flight Medicine at Tinker AFB two different times and Outpatient Surgery in the Case Management setting. Now, as a school nurse for the last seven years, I have to say, this is the most rewarding job that I have ever had. I wanted to work for OKCPS because of the diversity, cultured climate within the district.” (story continues below)
Growing up in Oklahoma City, OK, Tijuana knew from the age of nine that she wanted to be a nurse. “I always had a desire to help people and care for others,” she said. “I think being a nurse has to be an acquired career. Every nurse should have a caring heart, be compassionate, be attentive, paying close attention to detail. A nurse needs to be wise, knowledgable and possess a great attitude. Last but not least, a nurse should have plenty of patience,” she added.
“To me, being a school nurse is my reality. I have gained trusting rapports with my students. My heart sings to me when I am out shopping and hear, that’s my nurse, or hi Nurse T. I have open-door relationships with my students and there have been numerous times that students have come to my office to just vent or give high fives. I have a board in my office full of notes and drawings from my students. As a school nurse, I am a medically inclined individual in the building and the Administrators, staff and students are depending on me to care for them. A school nurse must hold the same standards and oath as it pertains to confidentially as though working in a hospital. I am a listening ear to the student, without judgement or bias.”
“As a nurse, I am not only taking care of patients, but also the family members as a whole. The qualities of a school nurse are the same if not more because I am assisting with and helping the youth. They are not as vocal about their needs therefore, I am doing a lot of assessing. School nurses must have great assessment skills because they are working solely autonomous. I’ve been a school nurse for pre-K through fifth, and fifth through eighth grade. Right now, I am a school nurse for an OKC middle school.”
Asking Tijuana to describe herself, she replied, ”Not to sound cliche but I am smart, considerate, kind, loyal and compassionate. I am a quiet soul, loyal and trustworthy. I am a youth leader at my church. I am definitely a leader and have always been my own individual, going in my own direction,” she said with a laugh.
Tijuana is single with three children and four grandchildren. “I love them all to the stars and back, infinity,” she said. “I have a German Shepard named Koda. She is six months old and is a handful but she is a sweet pet. In my spare time, I like to read, shop and travel.” Tijuana was recognized during Nurse Week and was featured in an article while working at OKCPS.
How has the coronavirus changed your life? “During the coronavirus, it has caused everyone to make a life adjustment. Staying away from others, doing my work from the house has been a real challenge at times but it is so important that we do what is right. At school, we are distance learning. The school building is quiet and school shouldn’t be a quiet place. Like everyone else, I will be glad to see our lives get back to normal, or is this our new normal?”
“I know all of the teachers, students and their peers will be glad to return to the school. Everyone is missing their friends.”
Summing up Tijuana’s life in three words, she replied, “Blessed, full and meaningful.”