School nurses have a tough job, and their contributions should not be taken for granted. Each day a school nurse may see several children and for different reasons. One child may come see the nurse with just a simple scrape that needs to be cleaned and covered, while another comes in experiencing an asthma attack and needs emergency medical attention. Nurses are the only one who can administer medication to the students, and are well versed with lifesaving techniques like CPR and the use of EpiPens. Their job doesn’t stop at taking someone’s temperature.
Norfolk School Board members have talked about moving away from registered nurses to cut costs. The pay for licensed practical nurses generally is less, $31,000 to $40,000, than for RNs, who earn $38,000 to $57,000. The state gives no directive on school nurses' minimum credentials. In fact, the state does not even require divisions to have a nurse at each school.
There are some areas where funds should not be cut and this would be one of them. With so many students attending school, there is an array of possible aliments and/or serious medical situations that can arise. Being prepared for just about anything, and knowing how to make educated decisions may save a child’s life!
If a student becomes ill or gets hurt, it is comforting for them to know that someone is there to take care of them when their parent/s are not. Parents also have peace of mind knowing that the nurse, a skilled, caring, knowledgeable professional, will have the experience and proper training to make medical decisions for their child in their absence.
School nurses constitute the first line of care when children are ill or injured, but they are also there to educate students about preventing sexual transmitted diseases and what to expect while going through puberty. They teach prevention of unwanted pregnancies and do spot-checks for head lice. Some students view their school nurse as a confidant, and go to them with their troubles or concerns.
As of now, there does not seem to be a large number of malpractice lawsuits involving school nurses. If school administrators decrease the level of care just to help stay under budget, however, a greater price may wind up being paid. Registered nurses, whether in schools or not, are encouraged to purchase malpractice insurance on their own; it may be difficult for licensed practicing nurses to get the proper coverage they need.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.