To the editor:
School Nurse Recognition Day will be celebrated on Wednesday, May 7. This day has been set aside nationally to honor school nurses for their vital and unique contributions to the health of children and adolescents in the educational setting. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize these important professionals who support the education of our students on a daily basis.
School nursing is one of the most challenging and rapidly changing specialty areas in health care today. Each year, many issues affect the health of our youth: increased pressures on families, changes in the health care system, and ongoing public health concerns such as violence, overweight and depression. As more children with special health care needs attend school, there are increasing needs for individualized health care planning and coordination with education colleagues to ensure availability of appropriate health services. Each year, new challenges emerge. As clinical professionals on the front lines, school nurses stand ready to join with community response teams for whatever emergencies may arise.
School nursing provides a wonderful opportunity to influence positively both the health and education of Salem students. By addressing the immediate health needs of students in a timely fashion, school nurses support learning through improved attendance levels. They also assist students who may have health and behavioral risks, often the same students with educational risks.
The school nurse is also responsible for managing a comprehensive, coordinated health service program for large populations of students within the school setting. This includes implementing the mandated health screening programs; managing the school’s medication program; preventing the spread of communicable diseases; providing emergency care; coordinating health service and education efforts with teachers, administrators, athletic directors, health educators, food service personnel; and collaborating with parents, community health care providers and agencies.
To date this school year, Salem school nurses have recorded 24,058 student visits for illness and first aid. Of the students assessed and treated by the school nurses, only 3.5 percent were dismissed home. In addition to these unscheduled visits, they have administered 7,179 daily prescribed medications, 10,699 over-the-counter medications, and provided 2,658 skilled nursing procedures and prescribed treatments. They have completed state mandated screenings for hearing (1,639), vision (2,150), scoliosis (619) and growth measurements (1,011).
School Nurse Recognition Day provides an opportunity to acknowledge these special professionals and their unique contributions to our students. Please take a minute to thank your school nurse.
Paula Dobrow, RN, MSN, NCSN
Director of Nursing and Health Services
Salem Public Schools