Life outside of school will almost always impact the way things go inside the building. If there is a traumatic event in the community, it will mean that many individuals have to change their daily schedules to work with students who are in need. This may mean a fire, death, weather event, or something else. The same is true for school nurses. Their roles within the school have dramatically changed over the last decade. Depending on state laws, school nurses may be the healthcare provider who children see the most. With the growing cost of health insurance and co-pays, many families rely on school nurses more than ever.
Busy Days for School Nurses
School nurses have a lot that they do on a given day in a school. They must administer medications which students require during the day, they take care of sick kids, they get called out to classrooms for emergencies, and they do traditional health screenings. On a given day, a school nurse may plan on calling all of a certain grade to do a routine vision check.
This could easily change if a diabetic child has their blood sugar crash. Their attention then must be on that individual. There is definitely an increase in medically fragile students who may require more medical attention during any given school day. With districts placing children in the least restrictive classrooms, school nurses may also have to help children who have feeding tubes, catheters, and other sensitive needs that require their attention.
Added Visits to the School Nurse
On any given day, many schools have at least 50 students who need to see the nurse. This could be because they don’t feel well, need an ice pack, bandage, or something else. Younger students may need help after an allergic reaction, while teens may be struggling with mental health concerns or something else. School nurses need to be in contact with others in the school to make sure they know what is happening with kids who will be going back to their classrooms.
Nurses in schools have also seen an increase in children coming to them with ailments. Perhaps a cough, rash, or something else that families are unsure of. The increased cost of health insurance, co-pays, and high deductibles means they may try to avoid an appointment with their doctor. They may tell their child if it continues to go to the nurse at school to have it looked at. Monday mornings may be particularly busy because kids were home over the weekend and unable to see another health care professional. Nurses will often help to field these inquiries, call parents, and sometimes recommend they follow up with a doctor.
For kids who do not have a health screening with their own doctor, nurses need to check medical charts to see if they are up to date on state requirements, like vaccinations. School nurses also help to set up community doctors or others who are able to perform physicals in school with the permission of families. The increased number of students means that schools may need more than one nurse in a building at a time. This is definitely something that individual schools need to consider based on their personal need.
Has your school seen an increase of students visiting the school nurse due to the increased medical insurance costs? Please share how you are working to handle this need and make sure there are enough nurses available for all student needs in the comments section below.