May 8, 2013

Honoring school nurses

SchoolNurse 1PSEA celebrates National School Nurse Day, May 8, 2013.

If you think school nursing is all about flu shots, Band-Aids, and record-keeping, you haven't been inside a school lately.

School nurses and health professionals juggle a complex array of medical and social issues, seeing thousands of students, and often moving from school to school throughout the district.

A typical week on the job can include immunizations, health care screenings, hearing and vision testing; dealing with home accidents, diseases such as diabetes and asthma, student obesity, special needs like tube-feeding, preventing the spread of disease through blood exposure; and the fallout from mental, emotional, and social problems, including arranging for disadvantaged students to receive breakfast and clothing, and even helping students cope who are homeless or whose parents are incarcerated.

For some students, school nurses are the only health care professionals they ever see.

Work is rarely confined to the nurse's office - school nurses interact with teachers, doctors, administrators, school counselors, coaches, parents, police officers, drug and substance abuse professionals, social workers, and Education Support Professionals.

Many Students, Few Nurses
Nearly 50,000 school nurses work in schools across the United States, but we need more. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, schools should have one nurse for every 750 students. The reality is a far cry from the recommendation; about 59 percent of schools have a higher ratio of students to available nurses.

The Pennsylvania School Code requires just one certified school nurse for every 1,500 students, making travel between several buildings a daily possibility for PSEA school nurse members.

Yet, school nurses continue to rise to the challenge. Healers, comforters, educators, mentors, trainers, role models, critically needed members of every school community, and heroes, PSEA salutes school nurses on National School Nurse Day and every day.





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