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The Roles & Responsibilities of School Health Nursing

    • The school nurse is there to help ensure the health of students and staff.nurse chris image by John Keith from

      From skinned knees sustained on the playground to headaches, the school nurse seemed to be able to cure it all. School nurses have been present in American schools since 1902, according to the National Association of School Nurses. The school health aid governing body says that school nurse positions were established to reduce the number of days pupils missed and to ensure that students had adequate access to quality health care while in school. School nurses act much as their early predecessors did, working to ensure that students and staff are safe and healthy.

    Tending to Medical Needs

    • The most obvious and vital job of a school nurse is to provide health care to students and faculty when necessary. While the nurses station is not often equipped to handle serious medical issues, the office usually holds all the supplies necessary to handle minor abrasions and simple diagnostic tests, such as temperature taking. School nurses have basic first aid training in lifesaving procedures such as CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. Some schools even have in-house defibrillators that nurses can use should an emergency occur. As the most highly trained health practitioner on the premises, the school nurse is responsible for tending the medical needs of people on campus, or handling the situation until help arrives in the event of an emergency.

    Providing Screenings

    • Students routinely receive a variety of screenings for conditions spanning from scoliosis to head lice. Schools nurses arrange or administer all necessary annual health screenings. In most schools, these screenings include vision and hearing tests. The school nurse also sets up special screenings when necessary to check the student body and staff for illnesses that are being passed around the school, such as chicken pox and aggressive flu strains. By providing these screenings, school nurses work to ensure that the sick receive treatment before others are infected and that health-related issues, including poor eyesight, are handled promptly.

    Dispensing Medicines

    • When students require medicine during the school day, they visit the nurse to receive the appropriate dosage. All medicine, prescription or over-the-counter, is to be kept safely in the nurses station to ensure that students receive the correct dosage, that the medicine is only taken when needed and that medicine is not shared among students. Along with dispensing the medicine, nurses keep track of the frequency and quantity of medicine used by each student to monitor the worsening of medical conditions such as asthma.

    Promoting Healthy Living

    • With childhood obesity on the rise, there is an ever-growing push toward promoting healthy lifestyles. In many cases, the school nurse is the party responsible for establishing and overseeing healthy-living programs within the school. These programs can include student-focused wellness programs or staff fitness and healthy-living programs. In some schools, obese or at-risk students can be referred to the school nurse and receive special counseling on health-related concerns that they need to consider and on ways they could reduce their weight and increase overall health.

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