Shortage of School Nurses Means Greater Student Vulnerability to H1N1

By Alison Bulman, AJN senior editorial coordinator

the school bus routine by woodley wonderworks, via Flickr.

the school bus routine by woodley wonderworks, via Flickr.

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:

Can School Nurses Help Prevent Heat Stroke Fatalities in High School Football?

Nurse Organizations Oppose Move to Allow Non-Licensed Personnel to Give Insulin to Students

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2016-11-21T13:22:07+00:00 September 28th, 2009|Nursing|1 Comment

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One Comment

  1. Barbara Glickstein September 30, 2009 at 10:51 am

    There are many reasons in addition to the current season of concern re the H1N1 virus. How about this mini-survey – ask adults you know who handles health care concerns/emergencies at children’s/grandkid’s/niece/nephew’s school? Then ask them if they think it matters who’s in charge of those important matters? If they don’t know – suggest they call the school and find out. I bet many don’t know there isn’t a school nurse, or that s/he’s there only 2 days a week.

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