Today’s schools are more equipped and more focused on the health and wellness of their students and staff. To ensure that everyone is safe, school nurses do more than just hand out Band-Aids, they are responsible for the health of children as young as pre-kindergarten to as mature as high school seniors, and even school staff when needed. In some cases, they are the only medical professionals that children see. School nurses are a significant part of students’ health and the overall wellbeing of their schools.
On average, school nurses see 30-70 students per day; however this can be higher number depending on the total number of students and whether or not they float among multiple schools. Per AllNurses.com, here is an overview of a typical school nurse’s duties:
- Treat minor to severe wounds
- Manage malaise like headaches, stomachaches, and sore throats
- Address head injuries
- Treat sprains, strains, and bruises
- Administer “as needed” medication (such as for seasonal allergies or headaches)
- Ensure that students with chronic conditions receive the treatment they need each day.
- Maintain all records related to students’ health and visits
- Conduct annual screenings, such as for scoliosis and hearing/vision
- Educate and train staff
One district reported that their nurse’s office received 3,000 visits between September and December just for injuries and first aid treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 200,000 kids younger than 14 years old sustain playground and recess injuries each year. For incidents such as these, nurses depend upon their first aid supplies to clean cuts, ease bruising, and get students back to class. Without prompt treatment, the chances of an infection or more serious injury developing may increase.
Students with chronic conditions, like diabetes and severe allergies, need special care. Approximately 193,000 people younger than 20 years old have diabetes and need to inject insulin and check their blood sugar throughout the day. As younger students often need help to do this, keeping a sharps disposal unit in the nurse’s office is necessary. This unit is also useful to have after an emergency allergic reaction and use of an EpiPen. An estimated 18-23% of school-age children experience allergic reactions while at school, and once their EpiPens have been used, they will need to be safely thrown away.
Taking on SCA
Approximately 5,000-7,000 school-age children succumb to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) each year. Organizations such as the American Heart Association highly recommend that schools provide automated external defibrillators (AEDs), especially if there are athletic programs. School nurses are the go-to people for inspecting units and ensuring that schools have an adequate number of them available.
Give Nurses the Help They Need
Contrary to popular belief, school nurses have incredibly busy schedules and significant roles in the health and wellbeing of their students. Schools can take care of their nurses by outsourcing first aid, CPR/AED, and sharps disposal services. By removing the need to constantly check first aid supplies, inspect AEDs, and coordinate removal of sharps, schools are empowering these vital employees and giving them more time to focus on providing students and staff with quality care, and peace of mind. With the new academic year just beginning, consider what your schools can do for the people who take care of everyone.