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Back to school: Many schools lose nurses to budget cuts

Discussion in 'School and Daycare' started by Ellen, Aug 2, 2008.

  1. Ellen

    Ellen Senior Member

    Oct 22, 2005
    BillingsGazette.com :: Back to school: Many schools lose nurses to budget cuts

    Back to school: Many schools lose nurses to budget cuts

    By The Associated Press
    During the past two school years, teacher Julia Keyse had to enforce an unusual rule in her kindergarten and first-grade classroom: No interrupting while she pricked Caylee's finger to check her blood sugar and adjusted her insulin pump.

    "They were so good. They would just sit and wait," Keyse said of her class at Etowah Elementary School in Henderson County, N.C.

    It's a task Keyse never imagined when she became a teacher, but medical duties have become a part of the job for educators across the country as schools cut nursing staff or require nurses to work at multiple locations. The change comes at a time when more students are dealing with serious medical conditions, such as severe allergies, asthma and diabetes.

    Unsettling change

    It's a change that's unsettling for teachers, school nurses and parents.
    "We don't want to pretend to be doctors or nurses," Keyse said. "I would have gone to school for that."

    Federal guidelines recommend that schools employ one nurse for every 750 students, but the national average is one nurse for every 1,151 students, according to Amy Garcia, executive director of the National Association of School Nurses. A quarter of schools in the nation have no school nurse.

    In Montana - like Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia and Arkansas - the ratio is one nurse for between 1,000 and 2,000 students.

    Although there is no historical data regarding the number of school nurses nationwide, members of the profession say there are fewer nurses doing more work, while teachers and other school workers pick up the slack. The average nurse splits her time between 2.2 schools, according to the association.

    "Teachers deserve a school nurse because their time should be spent teaching," Garcia said.

    Meanwhile, the workload of school nurses has increased since 1975, when the federal government mandated that schools accommodate disabled students, clearing the way for children with feeding tubes, catheters and other serious medical conditions to attend school. Today, 16 percent of students have a condition that requires regular attention from the school nurse, Garcia said.

    Many parents and school administrators don't realize that nurses are handling life-threatening conditions as well as performing vision, health and diabetes screenings, said Barbara Duddy, president of the Tennessee Association of School Nurses in Memphis.

    "They think the school nurse is nice little job where you take care of boo-boos," she said. "School nurses work very hard to make sure every child gets exactly what they need."

    Garcia blamed shifting priorities, shrinking budgets and a misunderstanding of the school nurse's role for the loss of jobs.

    The Southern Humboldt Unified School Board in Garberville, Calif., blamed a reduction in state funding when members voted in June to eliminate one nursing position and reduce the other position to 10 hours a week for the upcoming school year.

    "The nurses provide great services for our students, but so do all the other positions that we've cut," said Susie Jennings, associate superintendent for the 800-student district.

    Worries, struggles

    Robin Correll, the remaining nurse, worries how she will oversee the district's seven schools. She was already struggling to perform annual health and vision screenings.

    "It will be impossible to do all the work," she said. "It breaks my heart. Kids deserve better."

    Correll, like many nurses around the country, has already trained teachers and secretaries to dispense medication, give shots of adrenaline and help children use inhalers. So far, the district has stopped short of asking nonmedical personnel to administer insulin.

    School nurses, who have spent the last decade defending their jobs, are happy to see parents take up the cause, said David Schildmeier, spokesman for the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

    "That's how the change happens," he said. "That's how this issue gets solved."

    Copyright © 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    Published on Saturday, August 02, 2008.
    Last modified on 8/2/2008 at 1:01 am
  2. rb2015

    rb2015 Approved members

    May 27, 2009

    wow im glad that didnt happen to my scool:cwds:
    it seems that too many things are happening because of the economy
  3. DylansMum

    DylansMum Approved members

    May 12, 2007
    I guess its due to the recession, but if your child was very ill, wouldn't you just take them to your local GP.
    Most primary schools here do not have school nurses, and even though some high schools here have nurses, not all, its not a major, I would rather take my child to my local doctor than have them seen by a nurse. The times my daughter at highschool has gone to the nurse, she hasn't done anything, she always refers her to go and see her local doctor, after all she cannot properly diagnose or prescribe medication.

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