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What does a School Health Nurse do?

By Nat Robinson
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A school health nurse is a medical professional who works in a school environment providing health care to individuals in need. Children spend the greatest part of their day at school, therefore, it is important to have medical assistance accessible at all times. The nurse may work in a private or public school setting, including an elementary school, middle school or high school. He or she may also be employed by preschools or even colleges, providing care to young adults. To become a school health nurse, an individual will need to graduate from high school, complete a nursing program and obtain a license to practice nursing in his or her region.

The duties of a school health nurse can be extensive. When a student starts to feel ill at school, he or she is commonly sent to see the school nurse. The nurse will typically begin by asking questions of the student to get an idea of the wellness of the child. After the interview, the nurse may obtain the child's vital signs by taking his or her temperature and blood pressure. Based on the nurse's findings, he or she may call the child's parent so the child may be taken home or to a doctor for necessary treatment.

Another duty of a school health nurse is to assess injuries. After an injury, the student will typically be taken to the school nurse where he or she may assess the degree of an injury and decide on the type of treatment needed. Minor cuts and scraps are bound to be endured by school aged children and a nurse may spend a great amount of time sterilizing cuts and applying bandages. If a person is severely injured at school, the nurse will typically seek an outside source to treat the student. This will commonly begin with notifying the parents, who may take the child to a doctor or an emergency room, though in an emergency, the nurse may call for an ambulance for the student or person in need.

During certain seasons throughout the year, colds and the flu can become rampant among school aged children. Children miss many days of school from being out with these ailments. A school health nurse may become very busy during these times, providing care to sick students. The nurse may provide assistance to children by comforting them, providing water or liquids as needed and taking their temperature to ensure it stays in a healthy range. A school nurse may also be in a position to inform parents if their children should be kept at home, if she feels the child is too sick to be around the other students.

Some schoolchildren are on prescription medicines, so another duty of the school health nurse can be administering medications. The nurse may administer the medicines as designated by a prescription or by the child's parent. In some cases, the child may visit the nurse once a day or several times throughout the day for medicine. For children with certain diseases, such as diabetes, the school nurse may be responsible for administering insulin to the child. Aside from giving medications, the nurse may also treat allergic reactions to medications given at school or earlier at home.

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Discussion Comments

By Scrbblchick — On Mar 12, 2014

School nurses may also be the only adults in the school some students will confide in, and they are often crucial in helping to spot cases of abuse or molestation. Children will sometimes tell a nurse things they would never tell a teacher. As such, the school nurse serves a vital function in partnering with teachers and administration to get a student critical intervention when necessary.

In middle and high schools, when girls start having their first periods, some are pitifully ignorant of what's going on, and a sympathetic school nurse then frequently serves as a public health officer. The nurse can volunteer to call a parent and explain the situation if a girl is too embarrassed to do so. They are necessary components of a good school.

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