School Nurses

School Nurse Visits Up

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Nursing News, School Nurses

Savannah1969 -

Visits to school nurses have significantly increased, likely because of the difficult economy. People often lose health care when they lose their jobs, meaning that they will sometimes send their kids to the school nurse before their primary care doctor.

In Rhode Island, increases in the last five years total in the thousands, according to this article on in the Valley Breeze.

Linda Newbury, a school nurse, provided figures that indicated that visits doubled at one school (3,800 visits to 7,554 visits) and increased significantly at almost all schools. Only one school had a decrease, from 11,000 to 10,930.

Newbury acknowledged that an increase in population is a contributing factor, but not the only one. Parents will ask school nurses, “Before I spend money, what do you see?”

School nurses also are expected to address a much wider range of medical issues, from standard sore throats and fevers to allergies and diabetes.

Cumberland school nurse Margaret Wharton said while the district had not compiled specific figures, she has also noted a similar increase in visits as the neighboring town.

“All I can say is that student visits to the nursing offices appear to continue to increase each year as many families have lost health coverage due to economic issues,” she told The Breeze.

“School nurse teachers, in many cases, have become the first person to see a child for a health issue because they provide free interim nursing care until they are able to refer the child for appropriate medical care.”

Wharton said she is “very concerned” for the next school year, when there will be one fewer nurse in the schools due to budget cuts.

The illnesses seen are cyclical, Villeneuve reported at the meeting. While strep was prevalent several years ago, this year saw more cases of pneumonia, she said.

The nurses all spoke about the increase in number and types of food-related allergies.

Wharton said when she started in the schools 21 years ago, she had about five EpiPens for children with allergies. Now she said she has “a wall full” with about 35.

Newbury said food restrictions, like not allowing peanut butter in the cafeteria, “change the climate of the classroom.”

Newbury said more “medically fragile” students are enrolled in school with more cases of autoimmune diseases and diabetes in children as young as 3.

The History of School Nurses

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Nursing Specialties, School Nurses

An interesting article on Philadelphia’s answers a question I hadn’t really thought about: Why we have school nurses in the first place.

Up until the very beginning of the 20th century if students were sick, they were sent home with a note. Caring for the sick child and getting medical attention if necessary was the responsibility of the child’s family.

The nurse and social reformer Lillian Wald had a better idea — why not treat the children in school?
In 1902, she started to provide four New York City public schools (serving about 10,000 students) with nurses from her Henry Street Settlement. Her experiment was so successful that New York officials expanded it citywide.

By hiring 25 nurses, the public schools reduced the number of students sent home from roughly 10,000 in 1902 to a little more than 1,000 in 1903 – an astounding decrease of 90 percent. School nurses also made home visits to children who were removed from school, treating their illnesses and instructing their families in hygiene and prevention.

Other cities quickly followed New York’s example. Los Angeles put nurses in its schools in 1904, Boston did so the following year, and Philadelphia hired its first school nurses three years after that, in 1908.

Over the ensuing century, school nurses provided a variety of crucial health services. As public vaccination expanded, nurses helped ensure that children were protected against polio, diphtheria, and other diseases. And when the federal government required schools to accommodate handicapped children, including those who needed catheterizations and feeding tubes, their care often fell to – you guessed it – school nurses.

Today we’re told that nurses are too expensive for cash-strapped school districts. But the same objection was raised back in Wald’s time, at the dawn of school nursing. “There are still many people, even kindly souls, who cry out about this ‘fad’ because of the cost,” wrote Lina Rogers, New York’s first full-time school nurse. “What willful, heartless blindness.”

She was right. A hundred years later, let’s hope kindly Americans will open their hearts – and their wallets – to school nursing. The alternative is to close our eyes, like little children, and pretend nobody can see.

This recent post examines the issue of school nurses, budgets and the many services school nurses now provide in more detail.

School Nurses Spread Thin

Posted in Nursing Jobs, Nursing News, Nursing Specialties, School Nurses

Somehow I’ve made it to adulthood without ever breaking a bone, but I was either a very clumsy or a very active kid (perhaps both?) and throughout my elementary school years I was forever heading to the school nurse to have a cut attended to or a bruise soothed. In my memory, she was always there when needed.

I don’t know if she actually was on duty all of the time or if it just seemed that way, but school nurses these days usually have to serve several schools at once, even as the medical needs of their patients only become more complex and time-consuming.

The Whidbey News of Washington spoke to Robbin White, a school nurse, and Rick Shulte, the Superintendent of the district she works in, about the unique challenges that school nurses face now.

“The students’ needs for nurses has risen to more than it used to be,” (more…)