Sunday, November 16, 2008

School Nurses? I Remember Those!

We used to have a school nurse when I was in high school. She had her own office, wore a white coat, everything. I don't know if she was an RN or an LVN or what--not that I knew what those were back then--but she was a valuable, respected member of the school staff.

When I first started teaching almost a dozen years ago, the junior high at which I taught had a nurse. I think she was an LVN. I don't recall if she was there all day, every day, or not. The next junior high at which I taught, in another district, did not have a nurse.

We have a nurse on our high school campus, but she's not a "school nurse". At our school site is a program for some severely physically and mentally disabled students, and she works in that program. While several of us on the staff know who she is, I'll bet our "general population" students have no idea that she exists.

Given that backdrop of information, I found this article interesting:

Judge Lloyd Connelly sided with the California School Nurses Organization, the American Nurses Association, the California Nurses Association and other nursing groups in their challenge to a 2007 rule that enabled trained school staff – not just school nurses – to administer insulin shots to diabetic kids...

The California Department of Education settled with parents in 2007 and sent an advisory to districts throughout the state urging them to allow trained, unlicensed school staff to give the shots if a nurse or parent wasn't available.

Friday, Connelly ruled that the advisory is in conflict with state law that says only licensed nurses can administer injections.

Since I don't see that this ruling is going to cause all of our schools to get nurses--the article says there are 2800 nurses in our 9800 public schools--what are the children to do?

In addition, we have had students at school with some interesting physical ailments (e.g., seizures). If they were to have gone into seizures, the teachers were told that they might have to give shots. Seriously. Can you think of anything more stupid?


mazenko said...

At my high school, which houses 3500 students throughout three buildings, we have two full-time nurses (LPN - licensed) to serve our student population. In addition to this, we have a full-time trainer in the weight room (a licensed physical therapist and teacher) to meet the needs of our extensive athletic program. The trainer has two assistants who split their time among three of our districts five high schools.

It's really a matter of money and a community's commitment to its student population. I live in a very fiscally conservative, Republican district in a state (Colorado) that is quite averse to taxes. However, when it comes to our schools, the community supports the schools, and it shows. We have one of the best high schools in the country, ESPN ranks it the fifth best sports program, and even with growth, its budgeting is well-respected.

Five other districts nearby voted down bonds and mill-levy increases this year, and are going to be cutting staff, increasing class-size, and limiting construction and renovation in badly needed places. Where my class sizes jumped from 22/23 six years ago to 27/28, we will now be able to meet our growing population with new hires and the construction of a new high school. Our scores and rankings regularly prove to the community they are getting a good return on their investment.

Scott McCall said...

i remember when i had my seziure-like episode right after lunch....i ended up missing your class.

....but what i really remember, was no school nurse (she was gone that day) was on site to have any words of wisdom, and it took the principle a few minutes to actually decide to call an ambulance for me. i talked to him later, and found out he didnt know if they should call one or not, because he wasnt fully medically trained for it, as a nurse would have at least some sort of idea.

...gata love state budget cuts this point, they care more about students being at school, than making sure their healthy while at school (ie. paying extra for a nurse in case something happens).

Anonymous said...

We haven't had a full-time (or even part time) school nurse in over a decade. We have a "traveling" nurse who comes once a week. We have a nurse who is assigned to a severely handicapped student on campus.
I have a student's epi-pen in my desk drawer and had to read and sign instructions on how and when to administer. I had a student last year who kept his insulin shot kit locked in my cupboard and would give himself a daily shot by my back sink every day before lunch.
Fifteen years ago I got yelled at by my principal for calling 911 when a student got knocked out on the playground during lunch. Now, the school calls 911 for a hangnail.

Steve USMA '85 said...

A corollary to this is a case here in Maryland. Car crashes on Interstate 70 and catches on fire. State Trooper rushes to the burning vehicle, cuts the driver's seatbeat and hauls her out through the window to safety and the vehicle's gas tank explodes.

Trooper is then officially reprimanded for carrying a knife while on duty.

Darren said...

You've got to be kidding.

We have similar things here in school. A kid has a headache, so another student offers up a Tylenol. Busted!!!

Both scenarios are stupid.

gbradley said...

We had a school nurse.
My only recollection of a nurse visit:
I was in 11th or 12th grade sitting in the waiting room with a thermometer under my tongue.
A very attractive girl was sitting next to me.
She was rubbing the tip of her thermometer on her jeans trying to heat it up.
I don't know what she got it up too, but when the nurse looked at the reading, she scoffed at the girl and sent her back to class.