Providing care

Local Bucks County school nurse receives award of excellence

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Imagine waking up every morning and getting to do something you’re passionate about. For many, this isn’t the case, but it’s Leslie Fleming’s reality each day. Fleming was recently selected as one of the recipients for the 2017 Nursing Excellence Award presented by Gwynedd Mercy University Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions for going above and beyond her duties as a school nurse at Benjamin Rush and Valley elementary schools.

Healing hands: Leslie Fleming (center), a school nurse at Benjamin Rush and Valley elementary schools, was recently awarded the 2017 Nursing Excellence Award. She is pictured with Valley Elementary principal Joan Toller (left) and Supervisor of Pupil Services Tammy Wood-Moghal. PHOTO: Susan Phy

Celebrating her 23rd year in school nursing services in Bensalem, Fleming has provided care to more than 25,000 students and staff during her time in Bucks County. From the start of her career, she knew she was meant to work with kids. Before she got into nursing, Fleming worked as an elementary school teacher, however she found difficulty in landing a teaching position nearby.

After spending time contemplating her skills and career goals, Fleming attended nursing school and worked at Shriners Hospital for Children for five years. It was during this time she discovered the potential to combine both of her interests of nursing and working with children. In the years following, Fleming earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and certification for school nursing. Though she has been working in Bensalem for a little more than two decades, it doesn’t seem that long to Fleming.

“It feels like I just started,” she said.

Every day provides her with a new child to care for and different responsibilities to tackle. According to Fleming, the biggest challenge of the job is balancing the children’s visits and sicknesses with other responsibilities such as screening vision, hearing, height and weight and managing medications.

In addition to her daily duties of providing nursing services, Fleming has gone beyond the requirements of her job to share her passion for helping others with the community. Over the years, she helped organize numerous blood drives in conjunction with American Red Cross, getting both the school district and community members involved. She has forged several community partnerships with organizations such as Bensalem Lions Club and Kiwanis of Levittown and Bristol to provide holiday and gift assistance for families in need.

Fleming has also used her knowledge and years of experience in the field to train and help new nurses. In addition to training newly-hired substitute nurses within the district, she has been a preceptor for nursing students from Holy Family University and Bucks County Community College for community nursing rotations. Helping to teach these young nurses is especially enjoyable for Fleming since she previously worked as an instructor at Hahnemann University Hospital.

While working with the newly-hired nurses and students, Fleming shares pieces of wisdom she picked up along her own journey. While it’s easy to get caught up in the paperwork and other responsibilities, the sole purpose of a school nurse is to maintain the health and safety of the students.

“The most important thing is the welfare of the child,” she said.

When Fleming received the 2017 Nursing Excellence Award, she was ecstatic, proud and extremely humbled to be honored for her work.

“To receive an award for something I love to do is really special,” she said. ••