National School Nurse Day, an annual observation sponsored by the National Association of School Nurses, is designed to honor all school nurses. This year’s celebration falls on May 8.
Why a special day to honor school nurses? Students arrive at school each day with a range of health issues that require knowledgeable and skilled oversight. With health care needs ranging from poor oral health and allergies to asthma, diabetes and seizures disorders, students and families look to the school to ensure student safety and management of health conditions. School districts are required by law to provide health services and make accommodations for students with chronic health conditions. For some students, the school health services program or school-based health center serves as their primary connection to health services. School districts look to school nursing, a specialized practice of nursing, to provide oversight of student health conditions and promotes student health.
School nurses, grounded in ethical and evidence-based practice, function not only as care providers for students with highly diverse and demanding medical conditions, but as leaders who bridge health care and education, provide care coordination, advocate for quality student–centered care, and serve as critical links between the school, home, community, primary healthcare providers, and community and mental health services. Their contributions to student health support attendance, engagement, graduation, and ultimately, development of successful community members.
School nursing responsibility for students with chronic health conditions, care coordination and monitoring is demanding, particularly when time and resources are limited. A school nurse may be responsible for students in multiple school buildings – some are responsible for multiple school districts – serving the needs of some school buildings one day per week or less. Workdays can be hectic as the healthcare needs of students are managed along with health services program requirements.
On May 8, please take a few minutes to say thank you to a school nurse for his or her dedication to student health and safety. A brief note of appreciation or support is always welcome.
North Central ESD supports School Nurse Corps (SNC) services for Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan School Districts, providing nursing services funding to 12 districts and regionalized support services to 29 school districts, serving over 40,000 students. SNC is a unique, award-winning Washington State program. 2019 marks the program’s 20th anniversary. For information about School Nurse Corps, visit www.ncesd.org/service/school-nurse-corps/.