I have no memory of visiting my school nurse as a student, but I remember the feeling of comfort when I passed her office.
Looking back, having a full-time campus health worker provided the invincible heroic young boy that I was a sense of security. As a parent now, the idea of medical staff on campus is still a great comfort. However, the ability to provide them is complex.
Less than half of the nation’s public schools employ full-time nurses at a time when student afflictions such as asthma, allergies, and other ailments have grown. In the modern age, we find schools have morphed into educational structures our parents would have never guessed. School populations can range from a handful in a private establishment to over a thousand in the traditional public system. Student body size is one of the import drivers for designated helpers, but not the only one.
With the rise of charter schools, public school cutbacks, and destabilization in the economy, education budgets is the next piece of the puzzle. A small charter school would not have the funding or size to have even a part-time nurse. Many schools do employ the tactic of utilizing one person to serve several roles, covering down to nurse as needed. Finding money in the budget for a health worker would be a solution, but then there is another issue.
Starting salaries for school nurses are way below the what a person can make at hospitals or medical offices. Many schools have hired nurses only to let them go when budget cuts hit, so career stability cannot be counted on. A bill has been proposed in Congress that would allocate federal funding to hire school nurses, but it does not have enough backing to pass.
In my opinion, every school should have these wonderful people to help with the safety and health of our children. Is it feasible at every school? I would say no, especially if you are not lucky enough to take advantage of our own Joffe Emergency Services health aides. Are there alternatives to a full-time campus nurse? Yes, I think there is, and we can explore how in the my next blog.
For more information on our own health aide services, click here.
Will Brown, Regional Response Manager