To: Ben Kiser, VASS Executive Director, Tom Smith, VASS Education Legislative Liaison, GINA PATTERSON, Executive Director, ELIZABETH EWING, Director, Legal and Policy Services, Dr. Randy D. Barrack, Executive Director, Elizabeth “Bet” Neale,...
A School Nurse in All of Virginia's Public Schools
I am asking for the role of school nurses in Virginia to be reviewed and supported as an important and necessary professional in the daily care of, advocacy of, and facilitators of health equity for the children and youth of Virginia. I am requesting legislation be put forth to protect the safe practice of school nurses, and provide school nurses daily for all of Virginia’s school children per the recommendations of the National Association of School Nurses, which is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Nurses Association, and the CDC.
Why is this important?
Many schools in Virginia do not have a licensed nurse to provide safe and ethical medical care. For some Virginia students, school nurses may be the only healthcare resource they have access to.
School nurses have the potential to be community health equalizers in the care of Virginia's socioeconomic disadvantaged and disabled child and youth populations. School nurses support and facilitate school inclusion for all students. Public schools could be an economical, common-sense platform for the frontline application of Virginia’s community public health intervention programs coupled with the potential for long-term research. Incorporating a community’s public health approach with school health programs has the possibility to improve health equity and health literacy, target resource application with long-term cost efficiency not only in money but overall improved public health and wellness. My own experience working in a public school setting has been impacted by a lack of medical appreciation and understanding for the role of school nurses. Many of the administrators and school board decision makers do not have a medical background and lack the knowledge base needed to envision the potential of a public health approach/ application to the school health needs. This issue is most apparent in the area of students with disabilities. One of my most important roles is advocating for the federally protected civil rights of students. School nurses are the necessary experts for 504 plans.
I truly believe school nurses could help the state of Virginia in reaching its goals for wellness, health equity, and reduction in healthcare cost. An “out of the box" vision for the state of Virginia's school health program could positively impact more than the success of students, but the success of communities.
American Academy of Pediatrics Statement
National Association of School Nurses
The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools