Can School Nurses be Discharged as a Budget Cut?

Since 1902, nurses have been working in schools.

Since then, their role expanded and nowadays covers a variety of important activities.

Those are health assessment, promotion of preventive health, immunization, chronic health management, counseling, and clinical duties to students and school staff.

As there are budget cuts is some schools district, the role of a school nurse is slowly diminishing.

The position of the school nurse is established to assess the children, often immigrants, and help those who are sick or to prevent some infectious spread across the school and further in population.

The project of a school nurse showed great results in the prevention of infectious diseases and general patient outcomes, not only in the schools where nurses were employed but also in the surrounding areas.

After only six months of having nurses in schools, the rate of absenteeism improved by 90 % in those schools.

Having school nurses improved the overall health of the communities in which nurses served.

Slowly, the role of a school nurse shifted toward health promotion and prevention.

School nurses were in charge of health screening such as eye and hearing tests.

Because of school nurses, family practice physicians have more space to focus on acutely ill patients because they rely on school nurses to assess children with health issues.

However, by 1970, the concept of the school nurse has become more institutionalized.

Since then, school health services were no longer under the jurisdiction of national agencies in charge of public health.

The decision-making process related to school health services has been shifted to the academic communities, and not medical experts.

Also, the school nursing field has suffered greatly with world wars because the majority of nurses were called in to help the soldiers.

Also, as time passed, the experienced school nurses retired and there was a shortage in all healthcare workers, including nurses.

In that stage, the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) was created to maintain the school nursing field and standardize the school nursing practice.

NASN is a separate entitny, different from Natuonal Education Assositation.

In the last 30 years, there was a significant decrease in the number of school nurses.

Even though most of the states require school nurses to be employed, some budget cuts affect the employment rate for the nurses.

The NASN has set the standards for the school nursing field.

According to those standards, there should be one registered nurse for every 750 students.

If there are a high number of complex students, there should be more school nurses.

In reality, one school nurse comes at every 920-1200 students.

Having so many students to take care of, can be challenging for nurses, especially where there is a large number of students with chronic conditions, such as asthma or diabetes.

Nurses who have lots of responsibilities and lots of students to care for, cannot perform other duties such as assisting families when applying for resources such as Medicaid.

The majority of schools in the USA have school nurses, but also a specific contract with health aide based on necessity.

Very often, one school nurse is working part-time in several schools which can be miles apart.

Less than 50% of all schools in the USA have a full-time school nurse.

Also, school nurses collaborate with school management to improve the safety of the students and promote health.

In general, the role of school nurses in very important and have a positive impact on students’ health and the health of their families.

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