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Why Schools Need Nurses

By Sierra Black |

Growing up, the school nurse was someone I took for granted: always there in her office dispensing pills, providing a quiet place to lie down, and then sending you back to class when your headache cleared up. She seemed like part of the woodwork, as much as the school secretary or the health teacher.

Now, the school nurse is an endangered species, and school secretaries are often being called on to do her job.

As schools have faced massive budget cuts, many have cut back the hours they have a nurse on campus, or done away with school nurses entirely. A quarter of schools now have no nurse at all. Only 45% have one full time. The results, Parenting magazine reports, can be disastrous for students.

They report on at least two cases where students died from preventable medical problems, things a nurse would have been trained to handle.

The less dramatic situations are also cause for concern. As the Parenting article states:

No school nurse can mean that kids who have or develop a serious health problem may not receive immediate diagnosis or treatment. Those who depend on daily medications may receive them from staff who have no medical training. Physical or emotional problems may go unnoticed. Healthy kids may miss out on lessons in hygiene and nutrition. Everyone loses.

Lack of access to school nurses especially affects kids who have inadequate access to health care outside of school. They may come to school with untreated health problems like ear infections. Add to that the constant stream of kids who fall down, bump their heads, break their bones or come down with fevers during the school day, and the nurse has her hands full. As does whoever stands in when the nurse isn’t there. When those jobs fall to people with no medical background, the risk of mistakes mounts.

Does your school have a nurse? Are you sure? Many schools don’t advertise the cuts in their nurses’ hours. To find out, call the school and ask. If there’s not a nurse on staff, find out why.

Photo: timefornurses

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About Sierra Black


Sierra Black

Sierra Black lives, writes and raises her kids in the Boston area. She loves irreverence, hates housework and wants to be a writer and mom when she grows up. Read bio and latest posts → Read Sierra's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Why Schools Need Nurses

  1. PlumbLucky says:

    I’ll bite…

    In HS, district rules stated that all meds, including epi-pens, had to be left with the school nurse. We won’t go into the sheer stupidity of that here, since it was NOT a small building and being ten minutes from necessary medicine seems asinine to me. I wonder what the school secretary would think about having to administer an epi-pen.

  2. NoHo Mom says:

    My son has many food allergies and I will tell you this: I will not send him to a school where his epi pen is not allowed in the classroom. Period. End of story. If that means private school, then so be it. Here is my prediction: Home schooling will continue to grow if schools will not be able to accommodate the medical needs of kids.

  3. goddess says:

    Epi-pens and inhalers OUGHT to be on the child’s person once 10 yrs or older. These kids are supposed to be learning how to live with their special health needs.

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