Healthiest Schools: Where Have All the School Nurses Gone?

Sometimes asking the right questions, and starting conversations, can make all the difference in improving schools for our kids.

The next time you visit your child’s school, ask about its nurse-to-student ratio.

Health Magazine describes just how the role of the school nurse has changed over the years, as nurses become responsible for the health of more and more students.

The problem? No nationally mandated ratio. This creates a gross disparity among states. Only 13 states meet the Healthy People 2020 objective of a school nurse-to-student ratio of at least 1:750 students. Indiana ranks 20th, with a ratio of one school nurse for every 909 students.

Carolyn McCarthy, herself a nurse and a U.S. representative from New York, is trying to fix the problem. She introduced a bill that will fund states’ efforts to reduce their ratios. A version of the bill was included in H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, and provides access to demonstration grants for the purpose of reducing school nurse-to-student ratios in public elementary schools.

The National Association of School Nurses recommends a needs-based approach in determining appropriate ratios based on student health needs. We believe every child deserves a school nurse, every school day. School nurses, like those at HealthNet’s eight school-based clinics, help health be a bridge, not a barrier to learning.

You can help by asking about your school’s student-to-school nurse ratio, and raising awareness with other parents. Your school might even be a good candidate for a demonstration grant. Start the conversation, and help Indy’s great schools become even better!

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