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Without Health, There is No Learning: May 10, 2023 is National School Nurse Day

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Wisconsin school nurse examines a student

School nurses are front and center in making sure our students are ready to learn.

Think about the last time you had a pounding headache. Or when your asthma flared up. Think about when you felt emotionally overwhelmed, but still had to function at work. Now imagine you’re a student, learning something new. Trying to emotionally regulate in a school environment while navigating your physical and mental health needs.

Feeling ill or unwell at school can seem even scarier than it might at home. In schools where adult supports are often overtaxed (so many students, so many needs, not enough resources or staff), school nurses are indispensable in providing empathy, comfort, and resources.

Wisconsin’s school nurses impact students of all levels of health and at every demographic group. They provide direct care for acutely ill or injured students and manage the effects of chronic conditions affecting attendance and school success. Acute and chronic conditions disproportionally affect our students of color and those of lower socioeconomic status.

School nurses are a gateway for many students to have their mental and physical health needs noticed and addressed. School nurses react with empathy, intelligence, and expertise.

Beyond Band-Aids and Ice Packs

School nurses are leaders. They have been on the front lines navigating infection control and prevention measures to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmission in schools. They design and, when necessary, perform life-saving protocols to respond to student health conditions. They make sure that medications are dispensed accurately. They provide direct patient care in schools while still following all the standards expected in a well-resourced health care setting.

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s State Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly, as well as Governor Tony Evers signed proclamations for School Nurse Day, underlining their understanding and commitment to supporting school nurses. They are the glue that confers strength to the structure of the school community. They deserve our gratitude, of course, but even more so they deserve our support.

For information regarding school nursing services in Wisconsin, check out the DPI’s School Nursing and Health Services website.

Thanks to Louise Wilson, MS, BSN, RN, LSN, NCSN, DPI State School Nurse/Health Services Consultant, for her help with this article.