A 2007 Iowa state law required all school districts to hire RNs to work in their schools. According to this article from an Iowa TV station news site, many districts are applying for waivers because they haven’t complied with the law.
Reasons cited are either lack of funding to hire additional nurses or lack of nurse to hire. The districts have one more year to come into compliance. No waivers will be accepted by the state for the 2009/2010 school year.
School nurses are an important part of the community health system in many areas. In many rural and depressed regions, a school RN represents the child’s only access to any sort of primary care screening and oversight. School nurses monitor children with health issues like diabetes, administer medications for chronic and acute medical problems, and provide oversight for many other health related issues.
Many RNs in schools also perform basic screenings for hearing and vision loss, monitor for public health issues like MRSA, TB, and child obesity, and school nurses act as first responders for injuries in the schools until help arrives.
Look for a school nurse career interview in a future episode of the Nursing Show!