Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
In conjunction with National School Nurse Day and in observation of National Nurses Week, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY4), who spent over three decades as a nurse before becoming a member of Congress, is introducing legislation today to increase the number of nurses in public schools across the country.
“As a mom and as a nurse, I know that a healthy student is a successful student,” Rep. McCarthy said. “Whether it’s helping to treat the common cold, helping to stop the spread of serious diseases or identifying the early warning signs of depression or abuse, school nurses are the first line of defense in keeping our schools safe. This legislation is a common-sense investment in our future and Congress would be wise to pass it.”
The Student to School Nurse Ratio Improvement Act of 2013 creates federal grants to help states lower the ratio of students to school nurses and would require the U.S. Education Department to report the effectiveness of the program, particularly the relationship between access to student health services and academic success.
There are almost 100,000 public elementary and secondary schools and about 74,000 school nurses in the United States, according to the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, respectively.
“Today’s students face more medically complex conditions and chronic health illnesses, requiring the knowledge, assessment skills and judgment of a school nurse to manage their care,” said National Association of School Nurses President Linda Davis-Alldritt. “By promoting prevention and wellness and providing targeted early interventions – including mental health services – school nurses help reduce barriers to learning and address health disparities. Simply put, school nurses ensure that our children stay healthy, safe and ready to learn.”
School nurses are critical as a first line of defense in preserving the health and safety of schoolchildren, and free up teachers and administrators from monitoring and diagnosing health problems in students, which leads to a loss of productivity for both staff and students.
“School nurses are the health and educational advocates for the student,” said Anne McAree, RN, SNT – a school nurse at Mineola High School. The school nurse is often the first one to identify a medical issue that is affecting learning. The school nurse is the one students turn to for both their physical and safety needs to be met. A school nurse supports the physical, mental and emotional by giving valuable lessons in health care and self care.”