Nurse Singing Sensation

1 decade 9 months 3 weeks ago Tuesday, October 23 2007 Oct 23, 2007 Tuesday, October 23, 2007 3:43:52 PM CDT October 23, 2007 in News
A television singing gig, complete with guitar player and health-themed repertoire, is a bit out of the ordinary. But for Tammy Adkins, song is a creative, effective method of reaching Columbia's children.

"I like to laugh," said Adkins, who has been a school nurse for 11 years. "And if it's funny, then I think that they remember things better."

Adkins, school nurse at Rock Bridge High School, loves having fun with her students and giving them a place where they can come to talk or feel comforted. Often former students will call or stop by to see how she is doing, but many can see for themselves by tuning into her program.

Adkins' television segment, "The Nurse's Office," airs regularly on MediaCom channel 16. Todd Hildahl, who coordinates educational programming for the school district, said Adkins approached him about three years ago with the concept for the show.

"I am always looking for new programming," he said. "She contacted me with the idea of having a one or two minute segment on Channel 16 and it took off from there."

Hildahl shoots and edits the video for the show but Adkins develops the new ideas and scripts.
Each five-minute installment begins with discussion on a health and safety issue. Topics covered include proper backpack use, dental care and germs.

Adkins' methods for selecting topics vary greatly. A piece on the importance of eating breakfast stemmed from regular office visits by students who came to school on empty stomachs. On the other hand, she jokes that discussing cold weather safety was largely an excuse to play in the snow.

At the end of each episode, to drive the point home, Adkins breaks into song, combining original lyrics with campfire tunes.

"In my whole family we sing a lot and we know a lot of songs, just campfire songs and stuff like that," Adkins said. "I get too flustered if I have too much to memorize, so if I can sing about it I can get that stuff across better I think."

Few television personalities are complete without a sidekick, and Adkins is no exception. Trish Hinkebein, who is also a Columbia school nurse, plays the guitar for every show.

It's the light-hearted nature of the show that makes it effective in Hildahl's eyes.

"It hits the demographic," he said. "It's hokey, and it's for the kids, but I think the first, second, third, fourth, and even fifth graders get the point and really enjoy it."

But Adkins hopes she's reaching some older viewers too.

"It's like with the Incredibles and Finding Nemo. They're all sort of geared toward kids, but they have enough stuff there that older children and adults kind of get the jokes and stuff too."

Adkins admits thoughts of producing educational videos for national distribution have crossed her mind. For now, though, she's proud to be helping Columbia's students stay healthy while having fun. She plans to create new episodes of "The Nurse's Office" this school year.

Reported by: Kelly Trimble, Steven Welliver, and Kevin Young

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