Is There a Nurse in the House?
By Denise Mann
Sept. 3, 2001 -- WANTED: Nurses with background in mental health, pediatrics, pharmaceuticals, education, public health, and chronic diseases. All applicants must be willing to keep eyes open for potential violent behavior and medication errors. Willingness to work with teachers, parents a MUST.
Well, this is the job description for today's school nurse. Gone are the days when the school nurse dispensed Band-Aids and performed eye tests -- today's school nurse must be the jack and the master of many trades.
There are 47,600 registered nurses employed as school nurses in America's public schools, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. School nurses are mandated in some states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia -- but not all.
The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) recommends that there be one school nurse for every 750 children, but a University of Iowa study found that the ratio of children to nurses may be almost twice that nationally. In some states, that breaks down to just one nurse for every 7,000 kids.