Like everything else, it’s all about perception! If you believe school nurses only kiss boo boo’s, give flu shots and take temperatures, then it may be time for you to visit a school in your area. A typical day in the life of a School Nurse is never typical. They juggle a wide range of situations that span from medical to social. At some time during the school year our nurses have dealt with or administered immunizations, health care screenings, hearing and vision testing, dealing with home accidents, diseases such as diabetes and asthma, food allergies, cancer, broken bones, student obesity, special needs feeding, preventing the spread of disease through blood exposure, fallout from mental, emotional and social problems, including making sure disadvantaged students are clothed and fed. For some, the school nurse is the only health care professional they ever see.
Some school corporations share their nurse with one or more facilities, thus leaving school nurses traveling from school to school throughout the district. Rush County Schools is fortunate to have a nurse in each of their seven school facilities. This has been the case since the 2010-2011 school year. The statistics are staggering as we hear of places as close as Michigan where there is one school nurse for every 3,611 students (National Association of School Nurses 2005). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the best case scenario would be for schools to have one nurse for every 750 students. The reality across the United States is a far cry from the recommendation. However, Rush County Schools can take pride in the fact that they are way ahead of the game.
The final and most important factor is the impact of school nurses on student attendance. While public schools seek to provide books, teachers, administrators and lunch programs to accommodate their students, the school nurse provides an often unseen role. Several years ago, a study from the Alabama State Department of Education indicated that fewer students checked out of school for medical reasons when full-time school nurses were available at each school. Their presence and attention to immediate care is invaluable.
So to this group of medical professionals that keep our students healthy and in school, we say thank you for making Rush County Schools a great place to be.
Marianne Scott is the Legacy Fund director and information officer for Rush County Schools.