Definition of School Nursing
School nursing, a specialized practice of nursing, protects and promotes student health, facilitates optimal development, and advances academic success. School nurses, grounded in ethical and evidence-based practice, are the leaders who bridge healthcare and education, provide care coordination, advocate for quality student centered care, and collaborate to design systems that allow individuals and communities to develop their full potential.
Based on the Framework for the 21st Century School Nursing Practice, the following are some things a school nurse can do for children in Utah:
Care Coordination – this involves case management, chronic disease management, direct care, nursing delegation, and student-centered care. The school nurse develops individualized healthcare plans (IHP) and emergency action plans (EAP) for those students with chronic health conditions and ensures the staff in the schools are trained on how to care for those students.
Leadership – school nurses are advocates for the students and the health of the communities they serve. They should be involved in policy development and implementation at the district and school level. They should participate on interdisciplinary teams, sharing their knowledge on how to address the individual needs of the students.
Quality Improvement – with the annual School Health Workload Census, the school nurse can see through documentation and data collection what services are provided to students in Utah. This also allows them to see where improvements can be made. Evaluation is an important part of the nursing process and a standard of school nursing practice.
Community and Public Health – School nurses are often the only healthcare professional in the school, so they must be knowledgeable on how to expand their focus to the entire school community, not just the students. They should be culturally competent and help their community understand the levels of disease prevention in order to reduce risks. These include vision, dental, and hearing screenings (in some districts), as well as follow-up activities in the event a problem is detected. School nurses also support healthy food services programs and promote healthy physical education, safe sports policies, and practices.
Standards of Practice – The school nurse provides the specialized knowledge, skills, decision making, and standards for school nursing practice. These include clinical competence, clinical guidelines, critical thinking, evidence-based practice, and practice in an ethical way. All of these are guided by the Utah Nurse Practice Act and accompanying rules.
The center of this framework is the student, their families, and the community. By working within the Framework of the 21st Century School Nursing Practice, school nurses can ensure that students are healthy, safe, and ready to learn.