School Nurse Shortage Grows as Duties Increase
The "nationwide nursing shortage" is affecting schools as well as hospitals and nursing homes, as more families without health insurance have come to rely on school nurses for treatment of children and more kids now take prescription drugs during school, often leaving nurses "overwhelme[d]," the AP/Nando Times reports. A University of Iowa survey published last year found that the average ratio of nurses to children is almost twice the National Association of School Nurses' recommendation of one for every 750 children. While the image of school nurses is often one of "mere Band-Aid suppliers," the AP/Times reports that school nurses are often "responsible for thousands of children," performing such procedures as insulin injections and tube procedures, as well as distributing medications. However, the Iowa study found that nearly 50% of school nurses "reported errors when dispensing medications, most often missing a dosage." According to Judith Robinson, director of the school nurses association, some of the solutions to easing the shortage include increasing wages and reducing workloads. Martha Begren, a nursing instructor at the University of Minnesota, said, "We need to say to school boards, you put a nurse in every school, and you'll see attendance improve, you'll see kids doing better in class, [and] you'll see healthier kids" (Wyatt, AP/Nando Times, 4/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.