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School Nurses on the Decline

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An old familiar and comforting face is missing from our schools. The use of a full-time nurse in schools is rapidly declining because of budget cuts nationwide.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a full-time nurse should be present at every school, but that is often not the case. According to data from the National Association of School Nurses, only 45 percent of the U.S. public schools have a full-time, on-site nurse. Thirty percent had a part-time nurse, often one that splits time between several schools, and a whopping 25 percent have no school nurse at all.

When no nurse is available, schools often rely on administrative assistants, counselors and teachers to tend to hurt or ill children and to distribute medicine. Stretching resources and expecting expert advice from those who are not trained in the medical field can have scary consequences when it comes to the health of a child. Life-threatening conditions like childhood asthma and food allergies are prevalent in most schools. The NASC reported that 67 out of every 1000 students has asthma, while 20.7 out of every 1000 students reported have life-threatening allergies.

Having a professional nurse on site can also cut down on missed school time for students. The first inclination for an untrained staff member tending to a sick or hurt child is often to call the parents. The NASC reported that of the students seen by a school registered nurse, only nine percent were ultimately sent home from school.

Does your school have a nurse on site?

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