These flowers are for school nurses everywhere. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
The last day of school has come and gone. My daughter will be a second grader next year, and I am surprisingly excited for her to return to school in the fall. Even with her severe food allergies, GERD, asthma, and eczema, she had a fantastic year because of the wonderful school nurse. It eased my mind to have a medical professional on hand to assess any possible asthma or anaphylactic reactions that may happen at school.
We are so lucky to have a nurse at our school every day. Many schools have a school nurse only part time, or not at all. I have read that less than half of students have a school nurse every day, all day. With the high rate of childhood asthma, severe allergies, and climbing rates of other health issues like childhood diabetes, the school nurse is needed, and invaluable.
In talking to the school nurses in the district I have learned that they are part-time, but some stay until the end of the day as they feel that they are needed, and even though their pay is part-time, they work full time hours to make sure that the children with medical needs are taken care of. I suspect ours feels this way as she is usually still there giving breathing treatments, cleaning up vomit, calling parents and checking temperatures at the end of the day.
Our school nurse had my daughter in her office so many times this year for allergies, asthma, and anxiety, that I have developed a good working relationship with her. When I have gone into the nurse's office from time to time, I have noticed how busy she is, and how much she has on her plate. She has so many children going into her office each day, and is responsible for treating everything including minor lacerations, daily medications, insulin shots, asthma attacks, breathing treatments, anxiety attacks, and broken bones... Just to name a few.
Even with her hectic daily requirements, the nurse made my daughter feel welcome, and took all of her visits seriously, even if it was just an itchy eczema spot on her leg, itchy eyes, or a Band-Aid. So when my daughter had more serious issues, such as a possible food allergy reaction, or an asthma attack, she felt very comfortable going to the nurse for help.
In reading about school nurses around the country, and our state, I have found that many are over worked and underpaid, with some schools only having a school nurse available for a couple of days a week, or not at all. Many are expected to take attendance, and dole out daily morning medications at the same time, all while monitoring their students with serious chronic medical needs, and the daily multitude of childhood illnesses and injuries.
We need to give more to our school nurses. We rely on them for so much, and they are not given what they are worth. If only every school had a full time nurse with full time pay for the countless hours that they put in to keeping our children safe at school.
What can we do to support our school nurses? As parents who rely on the school nurse for our highly allergic children, we know how invaluable they are. How can we help our school nurses?
I don't know the answer, but one suggestion is to partner up with other parents and take your concerns to your school board.
Continued reading on the topic:
In the News: Student dies of asthma attack, no nurse at school
Insightful article on the dangers of nursing shortage in schools: School Nurse Shortage May Imperil...
Here is a great article about the recent trend of cutting school nurses: When Schools Cut Nurses
Description of what a school nurse's job entails from NASN: Role of the School Nurse