The school nurse is your child’s Chief Wellness Officer! So first things first: be sure your school has a school nurse in your child’s building every day. If not, there are 55 million reasons to have one. School nurses have access to 95% of our nation’s 55 million children every day, all day. We are the dedicated, licensed health professionals in your school community, whose eyes and ears are an extension of yours.
The history of school nursing goes back more than 100 years, to the tenements of New York City, when Lina Rogers Struthers became the first school nurse. She was assigned to cover 4 schools with over 10,000 students as an experiment to see if onsite care would improve student attendance. Not surprisingly, and with few resources, Ms. Struthers made a significant impact in decreasing absenteeism by 90% within the first six months of her assignment. Word quickly spread and in the next school year there were more than 27 school nurses working in NY schools. By 1914, there were over 400 school nurses assigned to NY city schools, and Los Angeles joined the trend.
Fast-forward more than 100 years, and you will find school nurses are working diligently across the country to provide comprehensive health services to our nation’s children, school staff, and the community at large. We are the Chief Wellness Officer (CWO) at schools which means we are tasked with creating a culture of health and well-being so our children are safe, healthy and ready to learn. CWO’s have an enormous task, but we are more than are up for the challenge.
Did you know that it was Mary Pappas, a school nurse at a private school in Bronx, NY, who first alerted the CDC to the H1N1 outbreak in 2009? Disease surveillance is one of the many services that school nurses provide. School nurses provide care coordination to our most complex and medically-fragile students who have the right to receive an education in the least restrictive setting. We work within the evidence-based Framework for 21st Century School Nursing Practice as defined by the National Association of School Nurses.
Student Wellness Services is a more comprehensive title for the enormity of the services that school nurses bring to their communities. Working collaboratively with your child’s school nurse and understanding the full scope of the services and resources that are available to your child will certainly help create a safe and healthy learning environment this school year. Share your health concerns – we fiercely protect confidentiality. Let us know if there are transitions happening in your family that might impact your child’s ability to learn or may mean they need extra support during the school day. There really is no distinction between home and school for children and having a caring adult can make all of the difference.
We are partners in your child’s health and wellbeing, physically and emotionally. School nurses can be that safe place to land because we bridge the gap between home and school. For the 16th year in a row, The Gallup Poll has ranked nurses as the most trusted and ethical profession! School nurses happily welcome you and your children back to school for the 2018-2019 school year!
2 thoughts on “The Relentless School Nurse: A Back to School Message From Your School’s Chief Wellness Officer – The School Nurse”
Excellent article about the importance of having school nurses; and a great welcome back to school for the fall season.