School nursing is a specialized practice of professional nursing that advances the well being, academic success, and lifelong achievement of students. To that end, school nurses try to facilitate positive student responses to normal human development; promote health and safety in the school environment; intervene with actual and potential health problems; provide case management services; and actively collaborate with others to build student and family capacity for adaptation, self care, self-advocacy, and learning.
According to the American Federation of Teachers, there are approximately 45,000 school nurses employed in the United States. School nurses are often the only health professional serving students in an educational setting.
In the UK, nurses undertake additional training as Specialist Community Public Health Practitioners to become qualified Registered School Nurses and are regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. With the Cameron Ministry's reorganisation of the National Health Service, they are under the general aegis of Public Health England, but are locally commissioned by local authorities, who now hold local responsibility for public health.
They are comparable to health visitors, but specialising in a school setting, rather than a domestic one. As such they normally take over public health responsibilities for children, from health visitors, once the children are over 5 and start attending school.
Like health visitors, they monitor child development, and deliver certain vaccination programmes, as well as instigating the child safeguarding process when they suspect a child is being abused or neglected. Given their physical setting, they are also often called upon to provide first aid, and it is for this that they are most familiar to children.
Notable school nurses
- Richard A. Meckel, Classroom and Clinics: Urban Schools and the Protection and Promotion of Child Health, 1870-1930. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2013.