Is attendance high at your child’s school? Do students arrive on time and ready to learn? Are they attentive in class? If so, consider thanking a nurse.
School nurses aren’t just temperature takers, headache soothers, and dispensers of bandages and medicine. When a student’s health is affecting their academic performance, it’s school nurses who intervene. They provide vision screenings and immunizations, organize health fairs, and train school personnel to respond to medical emergencies. They promote healthy food choices, active lifestyles and good hygiene — all while helping students cope with a growing burden of chronic disease and increasingly complex emotional and social problems.
“It’s not a job for a new nurse,” says nursing Team Lead Martee Hawkins. “You have to be able to function autonomously.” Canyons District has eight full-time registered nurses, each responsible for covering five to six schools, or about 5,000 students. Collectively, they boast more than 200 years of nursing experience.
With Wednesday, May 11 being national School Nurses Day, now is the perfect time to thank these champions of child wellness. The impact they have on schools and student achievement may not be obvious to everyone, but it has been well quantified by researchers. Here are just a few examples of the measurable difference school nurses make:
They reduce absenteeism
Students seen by a school nurse are less likely to be sent home for an illness or injury than students seen by an unlicensed school employee.
They boost academic performance
Children with chronic health conditions who are provided case management by school nurses perform better in school, as measured by improved grades, attendance and classroom participation.
They save money
Every dollar spent on nursing services saves $2.20 in medical costs and lost productivity for teachers and parents, according to a 2014 study in JAMA Pediatrics.
They save lives
In a survey of 1,000 members of the National Association of School Nurses, 68 percent reported managing a life-threatening medical emergency in the last school year.