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May 11 is National School Nurse Day

As I look back on my years as a nurse and the many roles available in this field, I feel the role of the school nurse has been greatly overlooked as a viable option as a career choice in nursing services. The importance of school nurses is vastly underrated in the academic world, but they play an integral part in the learning process for each student. The health of a student is very closely related to their ability to learn and unaddressed healthcare needs make it difficult for a child to participate in their pathway to success in the classroom. The school nurse is the link that keeps the student in the classroom and on his/her way to a healthier outlook for life in general.

The first school nurse in the United States was hired October 1,1902 in New York City. Her name was Linda Richards. She was employed to prevent absenteeism by working with children and families in regards to their healthcare needs related to infectious diseases, not unlike our current status with the fight against COVID-19. National School Nurse Day was first observed in 1972 to honor school nurses and was created to raise awareness of the importance of nurses in the school setting.

The Emanuel County School System’s school nurse program was established in 1992 and was formed through the collaboration between the Emanuel County School System, Family Connection ,and the Emanuel County Health Department. The nurses hired in the early years essentially gave medicine but soon found their role was much more.

Since the beginning, many other tasks have been assigned to the school nurse, and responsibilities have grown tenfold. We want to highlight the history and importance of having school nurses in our school system. These wonderful ladies go above and beyond to ensure their students are taken care of in a respectful and compassionate manner.

In the Emanuel County School System, we are very fortunate to have school nurse coverage in all schools. The National Association of School Nurses suggested nurse to student ratio is 1:750. Although the nurse does not see each student everyday, the school nurse does handle numerous tasks daily such as: administration of prescribed medications and treatments; performing first aide as needed; maintaining accurate student records; handling minor as well as major healthcare needs of students and staff; caring for asthmatic, diabetic, tracheostomy, feeding tubes, catheters, and other chronic healthcare needs; being an advocate for the student and parents while dealing with medical issues; and assisting parents with student’s medication regimen. (They are in constant contact with parents about medicines and treatments ordered by physicians.)

The school nurse is the bridge from sickness to wellness to ensure children stay healthy in their learning environment.

The love and dedication to children is the key component in being the best school nurse you can be. The school nurse is sometimes underrated and underestimated in the world of nursing, but it takes a special kind of nurse to do the school nurse job. These kind of nurses do not get into the education arena for financial advancement but because they want to advocate and assist these students in their healthcare needs in order to help them to be successful in their educational endeavors. They are true healthcare heroes in an educational setting.

If you see a school nurse today, let them know they are appreciated and tell them, “Job well done!” Happy School Nurse Day!

Nurses employed by Emanuel County Schools include: Gena Johnson RN at Swainsboro High, Tara Green LPN at Swainsboro Middle; Amy P. Akridge LPN at Swainsboro Elementary; Melissa Cann LPN at Swainsboro Primary; Lindsey Newsome RN at Twin City Elementary; and Tabitha Flanders RN at Emanuel County Institute.

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