AAP Recommends One School Nurse per School

July 14, 2016

Children with persistent asthma are more than three times as likely to have ten or more absences than their peers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But Dallas Independent School District is proving that it doesn’t have to be that way.

The school district, which serves over 160,000 students, of which 89 percent come from low-income families, has successfully shown no difference between asthmatic and non-asthmatic student attendance. That’s in part because 90 percent of school campuses have their own full-time school nurses.

That illustrates just one reason why school nurses are so essential to ensuring that all students are healthy and ready to learn. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued a policy statement recommending each school have its own full-time nurse.

The policy brief recognizes the importance of having a school nurse in each school because of an increase in chronic conditions—including asthma. The AAP used to recommend a ratio of one nurse to every 750 healthy students and 1:225 for students with daily needs. “However, the use of a ratio for workload determination in school nursing is inadequate to fill the increasingly complex health needs of students,” the report said.

Breena Holmes, who is a co-author of the policy statement, serves on the steering committee of the National Collaborative on Education and Health, a group we co-convene with Trust for America’s Health (TFAH).

Increasing access to school health services, including services delivered by school nurses, has been a key focus of the National Collaborative on Education and Health since its launch in February 2014. Currently, HSC is working with the Collaborative to support states and school districts in implementing the reversal of the free care policy which presents an important opportunity for increasing access to resources for school health services.

It’s exciting to see such strong support from the AAP for school nursing and school health and we commend the AAP for bringing attention to this very important issue.

You can hear more about how the AAP is partnering with schools on school nursing and other health care issues from Dr. Karen Remley, the AAP’s Executive Director/CEO, at our annual Change for Good Luncheon. Learn more about the Change for Good Luncheon and buy your tickets to attend this special event.