Though schools are in a tough bind when it comes to nursing programs, there are some practical steps administrators can take to address the issues of safety and underfunding.

“Almost every school in the country is either supported by board of education funds or Department of Health funds for their health services, and funds are limited,” says Judith Harrigan, training coordinator for the National Association of School Nurses.

The best thing schools can do, she says, is to contact Lions or Elk Clubs, Kiwanis, the PTA, or other local service organizations to request that they take the school district’s health services on as a fundraising project.

She also suggests the following steps:

  1. Have a support person available to do clerical duties. Initial screenings for hearing, vision, and scoliosis can be done by volunteers or auxiliary personnel, and the nurse can do re-screenings of children who are questionable.
  2. Have up-to-date, and adequate, reference materials available, like a current drug reference and current infectious disease reference, as well as subscriptions to appropriate journals such as the Journal of School Nursing and the American School Health Associations Journal of School Health.
  3. Provide opportunities for nurses to continue their education, which allows them to keep current and network with other school nurses.
  4. Provide access to computers: the internet for research and a computerized records system for keeping track of students, medications, etc.
  5. Encourage nurses to access community resources. Some communities have health services programs that may be able to offer help. Web sites useful to school nurses include Schoolasthmaallergy.com, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (http://www.aap.org).