When a parent sends their child to school, they assume that a school nurse will help their son or daughter if they are hurt or ill. This is usually true for most children with typical medical needs. What happens when a parent must send their newly diagnosed child with Type 1 diabetes to school? Many families will be anxious because they are still unsure about how to regulate their child’s needs. Not all school nurses have been specifically trained in Type 1 diabetes care.
The reality is that more schools are seeing children diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. This is a life-changing experience for the child and their entire family. They will need to make frequent visits to the school nurse to monitor their sugar levels. If their blood sugar is low, they may need to have a snack to help them increase it so it does not get dangerously low. If their blood sugar is too high, they will have to assist the child in administering quick acting insulin to lower the levels. Every moment is critical and nurses need to be comfortable following doctor orders for school. If a school nurse is not there, it could be a life or death choice for those in the school. Some schools have to hire part-time nurses to assist with the needs of students who have Type 1 diabetes because it can require an extra person.
It is important for school nurses to be aware of the laws within your state surrounding administering of medication and treating children with Type 1 diabetes. In August, a new law will be in place in Virginia. The new law will allow registered school nurses to get special training to help children with Type 1 diabetes. This will cover new technology that students may have, like insulin pumps. Nurses need to be aware of how to help if a problem comes up with a device while they are in school.
School nurses in states that do not have this law need to work to make this a nationwide requirement. It is important to be proactive and on top of ways to assist students. Type 1 diabetics require special care, and it is essential that school nurses understand what they need to do in a variety of situations which may come up while they are caring for children in school.