North Carolina School Nurse Focuses on Lung Health

(September 23, 2013)

Pam Dunbar is a Registered Nurse at Beverly Hills Elementary School in Cabarrus County, NC. For the past four years, Pam has served as an American Lung Association Open Airways for Schools© facilitator. Through a partnership between her elementary school district and the Cabarrus Health Alliance, school nurses are encouraged to teach their students the imporance of lung health. Open Airways for Schools© is one of the ways that Pam has been able to meet that need. 

Through her interaction with students as a school nurse, Pam is able to identify students who need additional help managing their symptoms, understanding their triggers, and properly using their medications. Each April, Pam enrolls these students in her Open Airways for Schools© program with a goal of improving their asthma management skills. These students come together during the lunch hour to review asthma management, learn how to properly use their inhalers, and get hands-on practice. 

Pam understands first-hand the struggles of living with lung disease. Pam's father started smoking at a young age and eventually developed COPD. Even though he stopped smoking later in life, Pam's father passed away due to complications from his lung disease. "I went through that whole experience with him being on the ventilator and going through treatments, and just seeing how respiratory problems can affect the body was difficult to observe," says Pam. Pam's son also struggled with exercise-induced asthma but was able to control it. "If children learn how to use their medications correctly, it makes a big difference in how they feel and manage their asthma," says Pam. 

Pam is thrilled that she has been able to help so many students with asthma learn about lung health in general and how to manage their condition. "It was just enlightening for the students because they just did not understand respiratory health [before coming to OAS]," says Pam. "If we [school nurses] had more time with students at an earlier age, then they will not become smokers, experience COPD, and other problems later on in life," says Pam. 

We thank you, Pam, for your dedicate to asthma education for the young ones in our lives!