The certified school nurses at Eastern Regional High School are assigned to two buildings that serve grades 9-12. In an ongoing effort to insure children remain healthy and ready to learn, the school nurses takes on roles of nursing care provider, investigator, communicator, counselor, educator, child advocate, community liaison, recorder and manager. The definitions of these roles are as follows:
Nursing Care Provider - Within the role of nursing care provider, the school nurse uses the nursing process, which includes assessing, planning, implementing, and evaluating the nursing care in an ongoing manner. The development of individualized health care plans (IHCP’s) and emergency care plans (ECP’s) should be carried out by the school nurse for each student with acute or chronic health concerns.
Investigator - As an investigator, the school nurse seeks information regarding health histories, health practices, environmental concerns, safety issues, communicable disease patterns and current health information relevant to the practice of school nursing. Consultations with parents and guardians, pediatricians, specialists, health agencies, classroom teachers, custodial staff and maintenance staff are sought in order to gather information.
Communicator - As a communicator, the school nurse uses varied approaches to share important information with students, parents, staff members, physicians, health care agencies, administration and governmental entities. Telephone conferences, personal letters, flyers, bulletin board postings, email communications, personal conferences, departmental meetings, Pupil Assistance Committee Meetings, Youth Study Team meetings, and CORE Team meetings represent some of the methods and forums in which health information is communicated.
Counselor - The school nurse serves in the role of counselor to students, parents and staff alike regarding health issues and personal concerns. Referrals are made to the school psychologist, student assistance counselor, private physicians, or community health resources as needed.
Educator - The role of educator is a vital role for the certified school nurse. The nurse provides formal classroom teaching in the human relationship classes as requested. Informal teaching takes place continuously on a one-to-one basis during the delivery of nursing care to both staff and students. Staff education on pertinent health topics (asthma, allergies, diabetes, PEOSHA, child abuse, seizure disorders, etc…) is provided at building meetings or in small groups as is appropriate. Parent education is provided through written materials.
Community Liaison - In the role of community liaison, the school nurse works with local groups and organizations to bring special programs into the school. The school nurse works with the American Red Cross to sponsor a highly successful Blood Drive for the senior class every spring.
Child Advocate - As a child advocate, the school nurse works closely with staff and families to facilitate that health needs and accommodations are identified and met. Advocacy can extend beyond these arenas to include referrals for health services, counseling, community programs, camps, or even DYFS.
Recorder - A time-consuming role for the school nurse is the role of recorder. A legal record must be maintained for each student, and documentation for each incident of nursing care is required. Each entry must include the date, time, major complaint, nursing assessment, plan of care, implementation and evaluation. Written communication from parents or health care providers must also be incorporated into the student records. Data must also be collected and recorded for state agencies related to immunizations, tuberculosis testing, medical waste management, and employee injuries.
Manager - In the school setting, it is essential to aggressively manage any health problems that are likely to compromise learning. For this reason, school health care providers must prioritize concerns and assign health services staff in a way that achieves this goal.