School nurse heals more than just cuts and bruises
Jun 4 2004
THE role of a 21st century school nurse has come a long way since the days of simply cleaning up cuts and bruises.
Modern nurses help with everything from homework problems to giving relationship advice. They also provide a friendly and reliable shoulder to cry on for angst-ridden youngsters above and beyond their regular duties.
According to research carried out by Croydon Primary Care Trust (CPCT) with 11 local schools, mental health and emotional well-being were the main reasons pupils visited their nurse.
Selsdon High School, in Farnborough Avenue, South Croydon, was one of the schools that took part in the research.
Attendance officer and first aider Linda Jones said: "I've been at the school a long time and the role of the nurse has changed very dramatically. The situations they deal with are a lot more about social problems rather than medical ones.
"The nurse has a good relationship with the pupils and refers anything of particular concern to myself, so I can then contact the pupil's parents if necessary."
Mrs Jones believes the nurse's role is so vital that she is needed at the school more frequently than just during a drop-in session once a week.
She said: "We do wish that we had a nurse on site as I don't think we really get to see enough of her. Unfortunately, we can't get funding for this.
"I do first aid, but I haven't really got time to listen to all the problems that the children have. But they can talk to the nurse about more personal things in private."
A key recommendation from the study, undertaken with Exeter University's Pause for Health programme, is that the title "school nurse" should change to something that truly reflects their new role.
Mrs Jones said: "From my point of view the title nurse defines what she does, but I don't suppose it really matters what title she has. She still does the same work."
Coulsdon High School, in Homefield Road, Old Coulsdon, was also involved in the study.
Deputy headteacher Maureen Stacey said the school nurse's two-hour visit each week gives pupils the chance to discuss issues they might not be able to at home.
She said: "Having school nurse drop-ins has been hugely successful. The role of the nurse has changed greatly over the years.
"Now they're involved in providing preventative help rather than reactive. For example, in offering advice to do with eating disorders."
Susie Sykes, CPCT research and evaluation officer, said: "I think the research demonstrates the commitment of the trust in ensuring that the work undertaken is reviewed.
"It shows the effectiveness of the drop-ins and has had an extremely positive response."