Category Archives: School Nurses


Today is the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and May is National Teen Pregnancy Month – a downloadable Supporter Kit includes 12 ideas for getting involved. Other offerings include:

May 11, 11 am – Digital Town Hall Webinar on teen pregnancy prevention from OAH.

May 19, 10 am – “Reducing Disparities in Teen Birth Rates” webinar from the CDC.

May 19, 11 am – Twitter Chat, #Youth360: Moving Beyond Prevention to Holistic Adolescent Sexual & Reproductive Health.

Other resources for the May campaign are available from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

School Nurses are Vital

Five Ways a School Nurse Benefits the School

1) Attendance
School nurses improve attendance through health promotion, disease prevention and disease management. Students with a full-time school nurse have about half the student illness- or injury-related early releases from school where no school nurse is present.

2) Academics
Improved attendance means the healthy student is in the classroom and ready to learn. School Nurses enable better performance, which also contributes to reducing drop-out rates.

3) Time
School nurses save time for principals, teachers and staff. A school nurse in the building saves principals, teachers, and clerical staff a considerable amount of time that they would have spent addressing health concerns of students.

A school nurse in the building saves:

  • Principals almost an hour a day
  • Teachers almost 20 minutes a day
  • Clerical staff over 45 minutes a day

4) Staff Wellness
School nurses improve the general health of staff. According to school reports, principals, teachers, and clerical staff are VERY satisfied with having school nurses in their schools for several reasons:

  • Teachers can focus on teaching
  • Office staff spend less time calling parents and sending students home
  • Healthy staff means increased attendance and productivity

5) Accountability
School nurses help schools stay accountable.

  • Promoting compliance with federal and state law mitigates lawsuits
  • Advocating for adequate staffing aligns with Healthy People 2020 recommendations of the ratio of one school nurse per 750 well students (1:750)
  • Preparing for emergencies saves lives and property
  • Addressing student mental health links to academic achievement

School nurses are instrumental in the identification and referral to community resources for health risks and are often the only health professional who see students on a regular basis. School nurses are responsible for:

  • Significantly decreasing the amount of days missed due to asthma, the leading cause of school absenteeism, accounting for more than 14 million missed days annually
  • Managing students with chronic conditions such as diabetes and seizures to allow them to stay in class
  • Identifying and treating accidents and injuries
  • Counseling students about physical and emotional issues

SOURCE: National Association of School Nurses

One family member’s story…

Tracy Grant shares the tragic story of how her niece, Mercedes Mears, died of anaphylactic attack due to severe asthma because the school nurse was at one of the other two schools she was assigned to and an untrained school staff member under-responded.

She is now an advocate for having a school nurse in every school and has joined WISH to work toward health equity for all children.

School Nursing is a Professional Specialization

School Nurses are often the only health professional in a school building. There are no doctors down the hall to help in an emergency. There are often no other nurses in the building with whom to confer.

There is no one else on the education team who can interpret the impact of health conditions on learning except the School Nurse. In this setting, with the broad diversity of children and their medical needs, it is critically important that School Nurses be adequately prepared.

The additional education enables the School Nurse to evaluate the impact of health conditions upon the student’s ability to learn. The certification program for School Nurses provides professional training in the management of school age populations:

A baccalaureate degree in nursing (BSN) is a minimum requirement for becoming a Certified School Nurse. (Not all RNs hold baccalaureates; some RNs hold associate degrees or go through nondegree programs.) Washington State School Nurses also hold Educational Staff Associate certification.

In order to become a Certified School Nurse, the nurse must have training in:

  • child development
  • child abuse
  • educational psychology
  • school organization
  • working with special education students and English language learners
  • writing 504 plans and participating in the IEP process
  • advocating for students with special needs to access their education while attracting as little attention as possible to that student
  • managing school age populations
  • application of the distinct law governing students’ privacy rights in schools, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  • the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
  • the Washington State Public School Code.

School Nurse candidates must complete a practicum in a School Nurse’s office, much as teachers must complete student teaching and doctors complete residencies.

School Nurse Certification provides for standardization of care among Washington’s school districts. Certification ensures that your child’s School Nurse is prepared to work with the school age population. If your child becomes sick at school, or is medically fragile, would you not desperately want your child’s School Nurse to be adequately prepared?

Source: PSEA

School nurses manage medically fragile children…

See testimony to the Washington State House Education Committee by Lori Miller, Mount Vernon School District, on the importance of school nurses in managing medically fragile children.

School Nurses Key in Managing Chronic Health Conditions

More children with chronic health conditions (CHC) are attending school, and some of them struggle academically because of issues related to their health.

School-based case management provided by a school nurse is the most effective way to improve the academic success of these children. The school nurse coordinates and conducts assessment, planning, and implementation of individualized health care plans for safe and effective management of students with health conditions during the school day.

Over the past few decades the number of students with CHC in schools has increased for a variety of reasons. Many students who had been confined to therapeutic settings are now being educated in the local school district in the least restrictive environment. Their right of participation is protected by federal law, including the
Rehabilitation Act, Section 504 and the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act [IDEA] of 2004.

As survival rates associated with chronic conditions in infants and children continue to increase and life expectancy increases, the health care and educational service needs of students will increase. Many children with CHC now are able to attend school and succeed due to critical support services, including those provided by school nurses. The school nurse is a key member of the educational team and is the one who is responsible for planning, implementing, and monitoring the health care plans for students with CHC.

Below is a video chronicling four students with life threatening health conditions and their need for school health management:

This video was produced for presentation to the Washington State Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee of the Washington State Legislature. Source: Heron Cove Productions

School nurses evaluate students, often identifying conditions

Health care needs of students with chronic health conditions are complex and continuous. School nurses assist many children not served by the health care system and work to create access to health care for students and families. Students who may not have been identified as having a chronic condition prior to school entry are identified by school nurses who then coordinate evaluation and intervention services.

School nurses assist students in learning to manage chronic illness, increasing seat time in the classroom, decreasing student absenteeism, resulting in cost savings to the school district and an increase in the overall academic success of the student.

Source: Chronic Health Conditions Managed by School Nurses, National Association of School Nurses