Shortage of School Nurses Means Greater Student Vulnerability to H1N1September 28, 2009
By Alison Bulman, AJN senior editorial coordinator
On Friday the New York Times reported that a shortage of school nurses is making students more vulnerable to the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus, stating that “[m]any districts have few or no nurses to prevent or respond to outbreaks, leaving students more vulnerable to a virus that spreads easily in classrooms and takes a heavier toll on children and young adults.”
The article acknowledges the key role played by school nurse Mary Pappas, who we interviewed for this blog shortly after she’d helped identify the first U.S. cases of H1N1 at a school in Queens. As AJN reported in June, school nurses have been and will continue to be on the front lines of efforts to prevent or manage outbreaks. But the school nursing shortage is acute, with just one nurse for every 1,155 students nationally, a ratio that the American Federation of Teachers has called “dangerous.” With a new school year underway, the Times reports, school districts are relying more heavily on non–health care personnel to identify and isolate sick kids and monitor absences.
For more on issues related to school nurses and nursing, see these recent posts: