Opinion
April 30, 2015

On National School Nurse Day we reflect on how to best ensure our children have a successful, productive, and healthy future

Dear Editor,

On May 6, we recognize our school nurses by celebrating National School Nurse Day as a way to foster a better understanding of the role of school nurses in the educational setting. This year’s theme is: School Nurses: Caring for Others. Caring for Ourselves.

Parents should be able to send their children to school with the peace of mind that they will remain safe, healthy, and ready to learn. Given that today’s children face more chronic health illnesses (e.g. asthma, diabetes, food allergies, etc.) than ever before, I take my role as a licensed, professional school nurse very seriously. I am grateful for the teachers, administrators, and professional support staffs with whom I work each day – who help to create a healthy learning environment for every child in Killington Elementary School. My knowledge, assessment skills and judgment help provide quality health care to children.

As a school nurse, I take on a variety of roles every day. For many children, I am the only health professional they may have access to, except in emergencies. This becomes even more important as the prevalence of chronic social, emotional, and other health problems keep increasing. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), asthma is the leading chronic illness among children and adolescents in the United States. On average, in a classroom of 30 children, about three are likely to have asthma. Further, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Today, approximately one in every 400 children and adolescents has type 1 or type 2 diabetes. According to a study released in 2013 by the CDC, food allergies among children increased approximately 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. The CDC reports that food allergies are a growing food safety and public health concern that affect as estimated 4-6 percent of children in the United States.  I help develop, implement, and monitor Individualized Healthcare Plans for these students.

It seems like common sense that healthier students are better learners. Evidence-based research in fields ranging from neuroscience and child development to epidemiology and public health support this argument. Our elected officials must invest in programs and services that seek to improve the health and well-being outcomes of all children.

As our Vermont stakeholders make decisions for children and communities, I hope they reflects the right priorities – ensuring our children have a successful, productive, and healthy future.

Sincerely,  Susan Clarke RN, BSN

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