School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: You Have 3 Minutes to Influence Your School Board

West Virginia school nurse, Sarah Arbogast stood before her school board meeting to explain her concerns as a district school nurse and a parent of a special needs child. BOE hears concerns of nurse, parent. 

“Taking into consideration the number of nurses we have staffed at this time, meeting the needs of all the students, especially the students with special medical needs, is becoming a daunting task for us to adequately provide enough nursing staff to the schools,” Arbogast told the Board of Education. I believe it has become necessary for us to put all of our heads together and find a solution to this increasing problem. Some of the nurses have gone as far as to quit their jobs, while others are thinking of doing the same, she said. Having nurses discouraged by the administration to the point of resignation has left us to fill even more vacancies,” Arbogast said. “We are at a critical low with nursing staff and the likelihood of a medical error being made is rising…

How many of us are experiencing the same concerns in our day-to-day work? Let’s be as proactive as Sarah and take meaningful action. We have three minutes to present our cases to our own school boards.

Three minutes equals approximately 390 words spoken at a typical rate. So, if you are planning on speaking in front of your board of education, remember that every word counts! 

When school nurses speak before a Board of Education meeting, their input and concerns can be valuable in shaping policies and decisions related to healthcare and student well-being within the school district. To ensure that actions follow our input effectively, school nurse colleagues can consider the following steps:

  1. Prepare Thoroughly: Before the meeting,  gather relevant data, research, and examples to support your points. This could include statistics on student health, the impact of healthcare policies, or specific cases that illustrate the need for change.

  2. Clearly State Concerns: During the meeting, articulate your concerns and recommendations clearly and concisely. Focus on the key issues that they believe require attention.

  3. Propose Actionable Solutions: It’s not enough to identify problems;  propose actionable solutions. These solutions should be specific, feasible, and aimed at addressing the concerns raised.

  4. Engage with Board Members: After speaking,  be prepared to engage in a constructive dialogue with board members. They can answer questions, provide additional information, and address any concerns raised by board members.

  5. Leverage Support: Seek support from parents, teachers, and other stakeholders who may share their concerns. Building a coalition of support can make it more likely that actions will be taken.

  6. Follow-Up: After the meeting, follow up with the Board of Education to ensure that your concerns and recommendations are not forgotten. Request your concerns be included on the agenda for future meetings or ask for updates on actions taken.

  7. Advocate for Policy Changes: If necessary, work with school administrators and board members to draft and advocate for policy changes that address their concerns. This may involve collaborating with relevant committees or working groups.

  8. Monitor Progress: Once actions are initiated, it’s essential to monitor progress and outcomes. Track the implementation of policies or changes they recommended and assess their impact on student health and well-being.

  9. Advocate for Funding: If additional resources or funding are required to implement changes, you may need to advocate for these resources to ensure that actions are adequately supported.

  10. Collaborate with Stakeholders: Continue to collaborate with other stakeholders, such as teachers, parents, and community members, to build consensus and support for their initiatives.

Remember that change within a school district can take time, so persistence and patience may be necessary. By actively participating in the process, nurses can increase the likelihood that their concerns are heard and that meaningful actions are taken to address them.

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