When most people think of a school nurse, they may think of someone who tends to skinned knees and tummy aches. But school nurses do much more than put on Band Aids and pass out cough drops. From administering first aid to ensuring immunization compliance, school nurses perform a wide variety of duties.
Schools often look for ways to cut costs, and school nurses sometimes may find themselves on the chopping block. But without school nurses, there would be a critical gap in services for students and their families. That gap would likely interfere with a student’s ability to reach their full academic potential.
If you are considering working as a school nurse or already have a position, it’s helpful to consider the important role you have. School nurses play a role in a child’s academic success by doing some of the following:
Promoting Health Education: School nurses often promote health education. Whether they organize anti-smoking programs or educate older teens about reproductive health, school nurses play an important role in teaching children how to make healthy choices. The healthier a child is, the more likely they are to reach their full academic potential.
Providing Important Health Screenings: Various health problems can interfere with a student’s ability to learn. School nurses often implement various types of health screenings, such as hearing and vision tests. If deficits are identified, school nurses refer students to the correct resources so they can overcome any challenges or roadblocks to learning.
Responding to Emergencies: Emergencies don’t just happen at home. Life-threatening emergencies, such as a severe allergic reaction or an injury from a fall, are only some of the emergencies a school nurse may respond to. A school nurse is the first medically trained individual on the scene and, in some cases, may save a child’s life.
Helping Students with Chronic Health Conditions: Students who have chronic health conditions are at risk for missing classes and falling behind. Some chronic health conditions appear to be on the rise in children. For example, according to the American Diabetes Association, over 200,000 children under 20 have diabetes. When a student has a chronic condition, they may miss school more frequently and not put forth their best effort when they are in class. As a school nurse, you have the opportunity to help students learn to manage their condition and keep up with their studies. In some cases, school nurses may be the only healthcare provider a child sees on a regular basis.
Acting as a Liaison: School nurses play an important role in helping children and their families access the health services they need so students can be successful in school. For example, nurses may help students connect with mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and family counseling. School nurses often work together with school counselors to determine appropriate services for children. Outreach services may not only help the student but sometimes the entire family benefits.