School Nurses Key in Preventing Cardiovascular Disease

August 08, 2007

by Mark Bishop, HSC Deputy Director

At HSC, we believe that school nurses play an important role in children’s health. As the only medically-trained health professional in the school setting, a school nurse can be key to identifying opportunities for improvement and ultimately providing a healthier learning environment.

We’ve worked with school nurses on developing wellness policies, implementing indoor air quality plans, tracking asthma episodes, reporting BMI and many other issues central to school health.

Last week, a new report was released in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association that shows the breadth and importance of the impact a school nurse can have.

The report shows that, as the primary health contact for many students, the presence of a school nurse can be one of the most important factors in reducing children’s risk for cardiovascular disease:

“Not all children receive regular physical examinations or well-child care outside of that provided by schools,” said Laura Hayman, Ph.D., R.N., head of the statement writing group and professor of nursing in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University.  “Identifying risk factors for CVD is a key component of primary prevention; thus, schools, preschools and other community-based settings where childcare is provided are important places to begin educating children and families about CVD risk.  Because they’re knowledgeable about resources in their communities, school nurses are well positioned to provide appropriate referrals for children and their families once a risk factor is identified.”

This research reinforces what we know about the vital role that school nurses can play in schools. We’re continuing our work with school nurses at our upcoming training on improving schools’ environmental health. To learn more, check out the school nurse leadership page on HSC’s website.