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Secretaries Step in to Fill Nurses' Shoes


Specializes in CCU, Geriatrics, Critical Care, Tele. Has 27 years experience.

Students are coming to school sicker and more medically fragile than ever before, but many Indiana schools say their budgets are too sick to afford enough nurses.

Since Indiana law does not require a registered nurse in every school, News 8 wanted to find out who is tending the schoolhouse pharmacy.

The Indianapolis Public School district has only 16 nurses for 79 schools. When you do the math, IPS has one nurse for nearly every five schools.

If no nurse is available, in many cases the school secretary is stepping in to fill those shoes. Indiana law allows for non-medical personnel such as secretary Nina Tuttle-Doherty (School 107) to dispense medications and provide basic first aid if they have been trained by a registered nurse.

IPS Nurse Supervisor Pat Kiergan isn't comfortable with the situation, but says, "It's the way things are."

Full Story: http://www.wishtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=2558090&nav=0Ra7T4I3

Thunderwolf, MSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Geriatric, Behavioral Health. Has 32 years experience.

Interesting? I wonder why the kids keep on getting sicker. Interesting? Does inadequate access to healthcare ring a (school) bell? Interesting.

I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana and we NEVER had a school nurse. It was always the secretary that took our temperatures, gave us band-aids, and gave us hugs when a bully pushed us over on the playground. When we needed scoliosis, hearing, or vision screenings, an nurse from the health department would come in. If we needed a Tylenol or something, the secy. would call our parents at home and ask them if it was ok to give it to us. In high school, our parents had to sign a paper saying it was ok to dispense Advil or Tylenol.

If something more serious was going on, the secy. would do what any prudent person would do and would either call the parents to come get the student, or call an ambulance (like if someone broke a leg, etc). We had students who would seize or have hypoglycemia...paramedics were always called without question.

I think in our litiginous society, it is dangerous for school secretaries to be given the responsibility to assess children when they might be sick. It was ok 10-20 years ago, but I think people are waay too sue-happy these days. There is physically no way to have an RN at every singe school in the country when we can't even staff our hospitals. Parents need to understand the lack of medical care at schools and be prepared to take responsibility for their child if they are sick. Schools should not have to take care of children that are known to have the flu, etc. just because mom and dad can't get off work. I think it's all about personal responsibilty and not about "other people need to take care of me and my family". If both parents work, fine...but have a contingency plan in place if your child needs you. It's called being responsible.

Nurse Ratched, RN

Specializes in Geriatrics/Oncology/Psych/College Health.

It's shameful, but not surprising. Indiana is also one of the only states in the nation still charging a rental fee for textbooks. Our state fiscal shape is so bad right now, I don't see either situation being remedied anytime soon.

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