As May 11 is National School Nurse Day, students, parents, and teachers around the country should be showing their appreciation to the hard working individual who keeps school medical records, performs health screenings, treats and comforts sick and injured kids, and doles out daily medication to students. However, in many school districts, there isn’t enough funding to keep a full time nurse in every school, making the jobs of existing nurses all the more difficult.
This year’s National School Nurse Day theme is School Nurses: Better Health. Better Learning. The focus is on the importance of health in the success of children in educational environment. Ensuring that every student has access to a school nurse is crucial to their educational well-being, as well as the physical. In a recent press release, one NASN official shared her thoughts on the importance of those in her chosen profession.
“School nurses collaborate with students, the school community, families, the health care community, the community at large, and government agencies so that children are in school, healthy, safe, and ready to learn,” said NASN President Beth Mattey, MSN, RN, NCSN. “A professional school nurse is needed in every school to care for every child because school nursing is the foundation for student health.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and the National Association of School Nurses, the ratio of students to nurses should never exceed 750 students per nurse. Unfortunately, in many locations, there are far more students than one nurse can manage. Nurses are being rotated between schools, and teachers, administrators, and other school staff must step up to the plate to become medical caregivers on top of their other duties. This creates a thankless and exhausting environment for school nurses and takes the focus of other school personnel away from their own duties.
In these budget-challenged communities, many of the students look to school nurses as their main source of health care, creating a situation where students have a lower performance due to physical health, and teachers are faced with the additional challenge of assisting their students not only in their classroom endeavors, but also with medical issues. Nurses are inundated with paperwork, assessments, and screenings for a larger number of children than is manageable and must also handle daily emergencies and regular medical care of students with various short and long term conditions.
Be sure to show your appreciation to the school nurses in your community’s schools this month and ask what you can do to assist them in getting the funding and support needed to create a healthy and positive learning environment for their students. With the help of the thousands of school nurses across the country, our nation’s students can benefit from preventative health care and the assistance of qualified, trained professionals to help with managed care of existing conditions, to achieve a higher level of success in learning.