With recent Swine Flu, West Nile Virus, and other scares, the nationwide school nurse shortage is a greater cause for concern than ever before. If there is an infectious outbreak in an area’s schools, a school nurse would be the first to identify the symptoms and to alert authorities. In addition, school nurses are the ones responsible for administering immediate care, administering medication, and helping children suffering from asthma, diabetes, seizures, and other conditions manage their health while attending school.
Reasons for the Shortage
Since school nurses are so important to the health and well being of children around the country, why is there a shortage? In truth, there are many reasons for the school nurse shortage. First, budgetary restrictions make it impossible for most school districts to hire enough nurses. Instead, many districts hire only one or two nurses who are required to divide their time among numerous schools. In addition, many districts have so little funding for school nurses that they cannot offer a competitive salary. This causes many nurses to turn away from these positions in favor of those that are more lucrative.
The Scope of the Shortage
These factors are causing a shortage that is already at critical levels, and is guaranteed to worsen if a widespread crisis occurs. According to a 2010 study conducted by the National Association of School Nurses, at that time there was only one school nurse for every 1,151 students. In addition, the study showed that less than half of the country’s schools have a full-time school nurse. Since the CDC recommends that schools have one full-time nurse for every 750 students, this is potentially a devastating situation.
The current school nurse shortage is definitely a reason for concern. As increasing numbers of students rely on daily medications and help in managing their health conditions, the shortage will become even more alarming. Let’s just hope that steps are taken to rectify this situation before an epidemic strikes or the consequences could be tragic.