Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Support Your School Nurse - Even if you don't have kids.

School nurses play a vital role in our society and most people probably don't even give them a second thought - unless they are thinking about the "cushy" job they may have. Those who think this may be surprised to learn that the school nurse they may remember from the childhood is long gone and the school nurses of today are in a specialty all its own.

In an article I wrote for GE Healthymagination This Isn't Your Mother's School Nurse, I talk about the many issues that school nurses face that they didn't exist a generation or so ago. School nurses are dealing with sick or disabled children who, years ago, would never have been able to attend a school or who may not have lived to school age.

School nurses also have to deal with children who may rarely, if ever, see a doctor or nurse practitioner outside of school. The children may either have no health insurance or may be in a family situation that doesn't allow for preventative health care. School nurses also have to deal with the realities of this generation, which include coordinating and running disaster plans for events such as natural disasters, crime and terrorism. They need to deal with children who are abused or neglected, as well as those who are homeless. And there is so much more.

It was very interesting to speak to the two nurses I interviewed for the article. There are statistics that show that schools who have nurses, particularly full-time nurses, have better attendance rates. We know that if children go to school regularly, they have a better chance of graduating and moving on to further education or finding good, productive work out of high school. School nurses do the actual nursing tasks that teachers and administrators have to do if there are no nurses - and in this day and age of education cutbacks, we can't afford to have teachers doing non-teaching work.

So, please, support your local school nurses. They need to be part of the core group of professionals students encounter at school every day. Having a school nurse is not a luxury. It's a necessity, whether you have children or not.