School nurses play an essential role in partnering with families to provide quality care while children are at school. Managing chronic conditions in school-aged children can be a real challenge. School nurses support children with complex or chronic health conditions, allowing students to remain in their school-setting, healthy and ready to learn.

There are many ways you can partner with your child’s school nurse to ensure that your child is healthy and ready to learn.

School nurses as direct care providers

School nurses play a very active role in ensuring that your child is receiving direct care in school for any health condition. For example, if your child has a chronic condition such as asthma, the school nurse can help administer prescribed medication and other treatments on their Asthma Action Plan. Additionally, if your child is diagnosed with an allergy, the school nurse can provide temporary emergency treatment to control symptoms by administering medications prescribed on your child’s Anaphylaxis Plan until additional medical assistance is available. Other common health conditions treated by the school nurse include, but are not limited to, diabetes, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and seizure disorder.

Because school nurses play such a vital role in managing health conditions, it’s important to make sure that your child’s school has up-to-date health forms and medication prescriptions/treatments for your child.

School nurses as care coordinators

School health nurses play a vital role in coordinating care for a student’s health condition. We encourage parents to take every opportunity to partner with the school nurse to ensure that the school has prescriptions, health forms (universal health certificate) and equipment needed to manage their student’s health condition.

It is also important to communicate with the school health nurse when there are any changes to your student’s treatment plan, prescriptions or condition. During your visits and appointments with your health care provider, we encourage you to ask your doctor about any needed school health plans or updates to school health plans for your student’s health condition.

Your school health nurse looks at the whole child, and partners and collaborates with educators, doctors, the community and parents to ensure your child remains healthy, ready to learn and able to reach their greatest potential. Please contact your child’s primary care provider to ensure they complete the correct health forms and medication prescriptions/treatments for school so that the school nurse can partner with you to help your child stay healthy and ready to learn.

The school nurse, your favorite advocate

At times, you may need an extra voice to help get your concerns and questions answered regarding how the school can help ensure your child’s health condition is supported while at school. For example, for children with celiac disease, the school nurse can advocate for the school to offer more gluten free food items. The school nurse can also promote awareness by educating students and their families about adding more gluten free food options to their lunches brought from home. Other health conditions may require that your child receive accommodations such as frequent bathroom access, access to drinking water during the school day or an allergy-free environment. Your school nurse can advocate for an appropriate accommodation for your child through a 504 plan.

The school nurse is your child’s health superhero in a school setting. If your child is dealing with a chronic health issue, reach out to your school nurse to start the conversation!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Mareesha D. Walker, MScA, CHES, is a community health education specialist at the Child Health Advocacy Institute (CHAI) at Children’s National. Sharon Bostic, DNP, MBA, RN, CPN, is a School Health Nurse Leader.

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