DiversityNursing Blog

The School Nurse Shortage is Raising Concern

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Sep 17, 2021 @ 10:37 AM

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The School Nurse shortage is not a new issue. The pandemic highlighted the importance of having School Nurses. As schools across the nation open back up,
concerns are again rising.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends schools have one full-time Nurse for every 750 students.

The latest data from a study, published in the Journal of School Nursing in 2018, found approximately 39% of schools employ full-time Nurses and about 35% employ part-time School Nurses, while 25% do not employ School Nurses.

With out School Nurses, teachers and staff with no medical training would be responsible for providing care such as dispensing medication, managing allergies and asthma, and monitoring blood glucose levels.

Not only are School Nurses responsible for providing care, they also play a vital role in the management of COVID-19 safety protocols and updating staff and parents.

According to a survey from the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), 78% of School Nurses say they took time to review data to see new trends in COVID infections. The survey shows 43% of Nurses spent time updating and developing school health policies and nearly half said they were spending time answering phone calls from parents and the community.  

“I spend most of my day dressed up as a ghostbuster in personal protective equipment,” Rhonda Cranford, a School Nurse at Northside Elementary with 34 years of experience, shared. “I’m answering the phone constantly with questions regarding isolation and quarantine. I spend hours documenting and sending emails. Ninety-five percent of my day is consumed by COVID activities.”  

Many schools have a tight budget and can lack the funding needed to hire a School Nurse.

Laurie G. Combe, NASN President said, “When budgets are tight, administrators make decisions to hire Teachers over Nurses, but what many administrators don’t understand is that having a Nurse on staff can actually save dollars."

A glimmer of hope arose in May when the Biden administration announced the American Rescue Plan. The Plan includes dedicated funding of at least $500 million to hire School Nurses to help schools safely reopen and remain open for in-person instruction.

It’s important to remember there is a Nursing shortage across the country. School districts are competing against healthcare organizations for Nursing applicants where wages in hospitals and other settings tend to pay more.

Between the Delta variant, mask protocols, and vaccine mandates, schools need Nurses now more than ever. 

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Topics: school nurse, nursing shortage, COVID-19, face masks, school nurses, school nurse shortage

School Nurses Play A Vital Role In The Fight Against COVID

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Sep 25, 2020 @ 03:44 PM

schoolnurseSchool Nurses have become the main point of contact for any and all things COVID-19 related. They are a key component in making sure schools stay open.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that every school have a Nurse on site.

But, according to the National Association of School Nurses, before the pandemic, a quarter of American schools did not have a Nurse.

Now states are scrambling to hire School Nurses as students go back to school.

“Most school Nurses are the only health care experts in their school community able to understand infection control and do disease surveillance,” said Linda Mendonca, president-elect of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). “But not every school has a Nurse who’s going to look after the children and staff. You need that expertise as a resource to safely reopen schools.”

COVID has made the role of a school Nurse even more complex, adding many challenges and new responsibilities for keeping children and staff safe.

They're responsible for complying with applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, ordinances, executive orders, policies, and any other applicable sources of authority, including any applicable standards of practice.

Nurses will also have to create plans for how high-risk students will return to school. They'll also help with screening protocols, creating safe classroom setups, hand washing and sanitation stations, and PPE distribution.

The school Nurse should collect and share school data in compliance with state and federal confidentiality regulations.

Once a coronavirus case is identified, school Nurses and local public health officials will work together to determine which students or staff might have been exposed to the infected person.

Face masks will be one of the main ways of limiting the spread of the virus in schools this fall. However, with younger students there's a risk of children trading masks or not keeping them on.

Social distancing is another key factor in keeping everyone safe, NASN guidelines suggest, staggered start times, small group and outdoor activities, no sharing of musical instruments, and meals in classrooms.

Liz Pray, MSN-Ed, RN, NCSN, School Nurse for the Moses Lake School District in Washington State and President of the School Nurse Organization of Washington said, "If I could offer any words for nurses feeling overwhelmed, I would encourage them to allow themselves and others a little grace. Everyone is struggling. Tempers are short, people are on edge and it’s been very difficult for students, parents and team members to adjust to these changes. Remember to take a step back, take a deep breath and take care of yourself."

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Topics: school nurse, COVID-19, coronavirus, school nurses, covid

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