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Is it like this every school year?


I am brand new to school nursing, I was a PICU nurse for 10 years prior. I am sooooo not used to all the admin paperwork, spreadsheets, emails etc. I work at an independent school with about 500 students. We require an annual physical and medication form (even for OTC meds) both signed by doctors as well as updated shot records. Our "deadline" for submitting was 8/11 and i STILL have less than half of students turned them in! Is this common to chase parents to submit paperwork?! I am killing myself staying 2 hours after each day trying to organize, log in paperwork turned in and corresponding with parents to PLEASE send them in or please get these shots! So stressed...am I alone or should this get easier? Thanks for any feedback!


Has 3 years experience. Specializes in Peds, Neuro, Orthopedics.

What is the policy if they don't turn this stuff in? If the policy is kids can't start school, then great, because parents will act fast to get their kiddo out of their hair and you don't need to spend hours after school harassing them. If the policy is they attend school anyway, then what's the point of knocking yourself out? We refuse to give meds without orders, so usually they get us those orders pretty quick, too. And if they don't, well, that preventable 911 ambulance ride is on their dime.

I don't get paid overtime, therefore I don't stay late. Simple.

Yep, they still start school despite forms turned in. It almost feels like why am I working so hard! But I feel like I have to establish some rule to it even if it's just me 😣 I guess parents may be upset that their child cannot receive any OTC meds but I can't without the proper form, we'll see! Thx for the feedback, I guess I should take it easier on myself!

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Has 25 years experience. Specializes in school nurse.

I have extra running shoes in my office specifically for chasing down paperwork :-)

Yes, it's VERY common for parents to blow this off. Unless your school policy has some teeth, i.e. can't come to school, it's a matter of strategic nagging and hoping for the best.


Has 21 years experience. Specializes in Pediatrics, Community, and School Health.

It's totally normal, and I remember my first year (this is my third) feeling totally overwhelmed and also freaked out that it was all on me to make these parents produce required documentation. I learned that as long as I am requesting and documenting the requests, there is only so much I can do. I also spoke with our principal to clarify if students really WOULD be excluded/sent home and she said "I would really prefer not to", so I relaxed. My third year in, I am still chasing folks down, but I am NOT staying late to do so, and I am not up at night worrying about it.

The one issue that does still stress me out are the families who indicate life-threatening allergies but then do not bring an epi-pen, or bring one with no paperwork. Our school is nut-free and fish/shellfish free, but we have a few kids with random allergies (coconut, pineapple, sesame, sunflower) so there is always a risk. I do have emergency epi-pens and a standing order to use them, but those are for undiagnosed anaphylaxis...

Anyway, hang in there and feel free to vent away- we all get it and have been there too many times to count :) Welcome to the funny farm!

OyWithThePoodles, RN

Has 10 years experience. Specializes in Med-surg, school nursing..

Unfortunately it is common. In our district the only thing we can exclude you from school for is not having immunizations. Which is stupid. Parents know this, so when I send home a letter to a 5th grade parent (and have for the last three years) about their child's missing physical, vision exam, or dental exam they probably roll their eyes and say "Waste of paper Sully, you can't do nothin' bout it." And they are right. Stop making me chase parents for these forms if they have no consequences for not turning them in.

Myself...as a parent I would want to turn these in regardless if they are "required" or not. But that's just me.


Has 4 years experience. Specializes in NICU; School Nursing.

This is my second year as a school nurse and I also came from a hospital background (NICU). I was overwhelmed my first year and put a lot of pressure on myself when it came to chasing parents but you aren't alone. Teachers chase down field trip permission forms, cafeteria workers chase down lunch money, SPED staff chases down signed documentation for IEPs. They will understand if you don't get the paperwork you need too. I make 3 attempts and document and if I still get nowhere then I move forward. Parents will suddenly be super interested and quick(er) to get the paperwork to you when there is a real consequence such as a 911 call because their asthmatic child doesn't have their inhaler at school or their child is sent home from school because they didn't turn in immunization paperwork in a timely manner. My state excludes for being noncompliant with immunizations. Don't sweat it. You can only do so much.


Has 4 years experience. Specializes in NCSN.

You absolutely should not be staying two hours after every day.

Fall is a lot more intense than I imagined (I started in January), but it does get better!!

JenTheSchoolRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in School nursing.

Welcome to our world! You are, sadly, not alone.

Few of us have gotten too 100% paperwork compliance and if we do, we do the biggest happy dance one can do.

I was worried about it the first year; now I still chase paperwork down over and over, of course (and document doing so), but I will be overjoyed if I get close to 70% of it within the first couple of weeks of school.


Has 5 years experience. Specializes in School nurse.

Regarding meds and paperwork, I have admin support that if I have a diagnosis, say asthma, and no meds or paperwork then the kiddo can't go on field trips. Amazing results. btw back in the day when I first was subbing I had a kiddo have an asthma attack after jumping in hay during a field trip 2 hrs away and out of state. No meds. Fortunately it was relatively minor and I was able to help him with common sense interventions. Swore then that if I ever became a full time school nurse that meds are a must.

Prioritize which battles you want to fight. No physical or dental? I just document every time I notify a parent. I don't lose sleep over it. See which policies admin will enforce and focus on those. Also focus on things that truly effect student safety. If that hep B spacing is off by a few days, I'm not going to go bonkers getting a letter from the physician that's the kid is adequately immunized. I ask then let it go. Take care of your diabetics, your asthma kids. If Susie doesn't get a Tylenol for her menstrual cramps because mom won't provide forms, she will survive and if she gets on moms case, maybe you will get what you need.

OP: Before I was a nurse I was a classroom teacher for fifteen years of my life. It is extremely common to have numerous parents drag their feet on stuff like this (i.e. important paperwork and documentation they must turn in). I am sorry.


Specializes in Pediatrics.

peacockblue gives good advice...chill...don't believe anything you didn't see with your own eyes or hear with your own ears...student health and safety is top priority...procedures, policies, rules, papers, etc., really don't matter comparatively speaking. Just be vigilant for the students and be ready to "snatch kids from the jaws of death; one kid at a time!!"

JerseyTomatoMDCrab, BSN

Has 8 years experience. Specializes in med-surg, IMC, school nursing, NICU.

Student care always should be first, obviously. Peacock made a great point. My school had a policy where there was a 20 day grace period from the first day the child was in school to get any necessary paperwork (which in MD was just immunizations, everything else was "desired but not required") and if they weren't in compliance by then, they were excluded from school until they at least had proof of an appointment to get immunized. This really kicked parents in the butt and I never had to exclude anyone. Had a few close calls!!

If your school doesn't have a policy like this, I would suggest bringing it to the attention of your supervisor to see if you can get one written. It's pretty useful when it comes to the important stuff.

Our students don't start if they don't have immi's, physicals not required yearly. Emergency medical cards are what I had the hardest time with. Last year our principal let me institute a policy that if it wasn't turned in no sports, field trips, or extra-curriculars of any kind. Best thing we ever did, only had 2 not returned out of about 700 kids. One of the two turned his in the last week of school so he could participate in the end of year celebration!:roflmao:


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