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The role of school nurses in creating a safe learning environment

The role of school nurses in creating a safe learning environment has come into sharp focus in recent years. School nurses are often the first responders in any emergency situation, and they play a critical role in providing care and support to students during a crisis. They also play a vital role in promoting and preserving the health and wellbeing of students on a daily basis.

School nursing defined

According to the National Association of School Nurses, school nursing is a specialized practice that facilitates optimal development, promotes and protects student health, and advances academic success. School nurses are uniquely positioned to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for students. They are the link between home and school, and they have the knowledge and expertise to identify and address health concerns before they become problems.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, school nurses were placed under unprecedented demands. In addition to their traditional roles in promoting physical and mental health, they were being asked to play a critical role in mitigating the spread of the virus.

To properly meet those demands, school nurses need to be prepared with advanced education and skills in nursing. ADN to MSN bridge programs allow nurses to attain the clinical skills and communications necessary to provide high-quality nursing care to patients. These programs combine the clinical and communication skills of ADN with additional coursework related to infection prevention and control, global health and leadership. 

The school nurse job

The school nurse job was once stereotyped as a low-skill and slow-paced position. Today, they even care for students experiencing complex conditions requiring acute care at higher levels of nursing proficiency.

Besides direct care, these nurses must be acquainted with exceptional leadership, advocacy and public health skills. Children’s educational opportunities are negatively affected when they are absent from school due to illness. In an age of heightened anxiety about student safety, parents want to know that their children are being cared for by the most qualified people possible.

School nurses can help alleviate these concerns by creating a culture of health and safety in their schools. By partnering with students, families, teachers and community members, they can work together to raise awareness about the importance of good health and safety practices in schools.

Reliable leadership

School district leaders know how important it is to have a reliable leader in charge of school nursing. By working with students, parents, teachers and community members, school nurses can create a sense of safety and preparedness that will allow students to focus on their education.

State and federal governments are taking steps to ensure that the role of the school nurse continues to evolve as community needs change. School nurses today are being tasked with addressing important issues such as mental health, substance abuse, bullying and nutrition. They are also playing an ever-increasing role in addressing urban and rural health disparities.

Bottom line

There is a growing need for school nurses, and those who work in this profession can expect to see the demands on their skills and skillset increase. The role of school nurses in keeping communities, families and schoolchildren healthy has become more important than ever. School nurses must be prepared to address these challenges.