School Based Youth Health Nurse (SBYHN)

Recently I received a Facebook invite to a 20 year reunion of Cairns High School Students who completed year 12 in 1999. Cue nostalgia.

The Cairns Post, 20 February 1999, page 19.

In 1999 I was one of 25 Registered Nurses employed by Queensland Health to pilot the School Based Youth Health Nurse Program. I was the only male in the cohort, and one of two who also had mental health qualifications (all of us shared a background in general nursing). The two schools I covered were Cairns State High School and Yarrabah State School.

Some of the Cairns State High School students autographed a uniform for me as a parting gift.

School Based Youth Health Nurses are Queensland Health employees who provide a service that is delivered in partnership with Education Queensland to address the health and wellbeing of the young people and school communities.

The roles and functions of a School Based Youth Health Nurse includes:

  • Promoting health and wellbeing with a “whole school approach” to support the development of healthy school environments.
  • Making recommendations on health resources to support curriculum, teaching and learning activities in schools.
  • Individual health consultations with assessment, support, health information and referral options related to:
    • Healthy eating and exercise
    • Relationships
    • Personal and family problems
    • Feeling sad, worried and angry
    • Sexual health
    • Smoking, alcohol and other drugs
    • Growth and development

To clarify, the School Based Youth Health Nurse does not provide medical treatments, first aid, medications, physical examinations, or ongoing counseling.

It was a great job – not without its challenges, of course – but great all the same.

My single favourite part of the job was interacting with school students individually and in small groups. I was blown-away by how worldly and mature most of them were. As an example, when I was setting-up a space where I could chat to students confidentially a year 10 student swung past to introduce himself, saying something like, “Hi I’m Nathan. I started on antidepressant medication a couple of months ago, and I think I’m going OK now, but I just wanted to meet you in case I need to speak to you later sometime.” I was nothing like that sensible when I was in year 10.

Actually, I wish I was that sensible now. I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that those students are older now than I was then!


That’s it for this one. Short and sweet.

My main motivator for this blog post is to store the pics online so I can find them PRN, and easily share them with the peeps who were kind enough to remember me when planning their 20 year reunion. Have fun guys! 🙂

Interested in reading more about the SBYHN role? The article ‘No such thing as a typical day in the life of a school-based youth nurse’ may be of interest. 

As always, you’re welcome to leave feedback in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 29 February 2020

Short URL:

BTW: the section in blue above is mostly a copy and paste from here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s