March 15th, 2009
Over the years, we have seen a slew of different types of nurses that have emerged as modern society has needed them: hospital nurses, nursing home nurses, midwives, etc. However, more recently, we have seen an increase in the prominence of school nurses with the fear of H1N1 spreading throughout public schools faster than we thought possible a year ago.
Public school nurses are responsible for overseeing hundreds, sometimes even thousands of students, and ensuring that all these students remain healthy. Sometimes dealing with students who have issues as minor as a paper cut, up to issues as severe as epileptic seizures, these types of nurses are equipped to deal with nearly any scenario that comes their way. As H1N1 is still gaining in numbers, school nurses now have to keep records of how many children come to them with runny noses and fevers, carefully documenting the prevalence of flu-like symptoms that emerge within their hallways in order to prevent a mass outbreak within the school.
The fear of H1N1 that presented itself last summer is anything but gone as flu season is now in full force and every day there are more reports of deaths from Swine Flu. Public school nurses are on the front lines of this new form of flu and are the first to view the spread of the virus within school halls. Children are most susceptible to the virus (as they always have been to other easily spread illnesses) because they do not take as many precautions as adults do. Therefore, school nurses in larger cities are now beginning the vaccination process, offering free H1N1 and flu shots to students whose parents cannot afford the additional costs of vaccines.
With 56,239 public school nurses nationwide, healthcare in public schools seems to be growing at an exponential rate. However, there is a growing need for more public school nurses as modern society has seen an emergence of health issues that were never before major health concerns. More and more students are being diagnosed with ADD and ADHD, and school nurses are the people in charge of ensuring that these students receive their proper medication at certain times during the day. Additionally, students with mental disabilities are now enrolled in public schools (in comparison to only a few decades ago), posing a new challenge to school nurses who have to know how to determine whether these students are sick or simply need some type of stimulation.
In many cities around the country, public school nurses are the only form of health care many of these students receive, as their parents do not have health insurance. As a result, these nurses have become a vital source of health care, ensuring that many of their students remain healthy and take the necessary precautions to fight the flu and related illnesses. With the health care legislation slowly passing through the House, this may change in only a few months, but as for right now, public school nurses are on the frontlines of the health industry, protecting many students from the dangers of disease and illness.
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