California Falls Far Short of Federal Guidelines for Nurse-to-Student Ratios in Schools

Federal guidelines call for one school nurse to be available for every 750 healthy pupils. In California, the ratio is one school nurse for every 2,230 students — including those defined as medically fragile.

In a California Healthline Special Report, lawmakers and school and nursing officials discussed the shortage. The Special Report includes comments from:

  • Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif);
  • Linda Davis-Alldritt, a consultant for the California Department of Education;
  • Mary Jean Schumann, chief program officer for the American Nurses Association; and
  • Nancy Spradling, executive director of the California School Nurses Association.

Along with the state budget crisis, the scarcity of nurses in schools led the California Department of Education to call for school employees to volunteer to administer insulin to students with diabetes. The American Nurses Association recently filed suit against the department to halt the practice.

“The Department of Education is trying to determine nursing practice, which is not appropriate,” said Schumann. “And we will contend that that’s a very complicated situation, that it’s not a matter of someone drawing up insulin and giving an injection” (Kennedy, California Healthline, 9/16).

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