school nurse, healthcare, nursing, nursing journal

School nurse shortage: How to fill the gap

By: American Nurse Today

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least one RN in every school, but according to the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), only 40% of schools have a full-time nurse and 25% don’t have any nurse.

This National Education Association map provides a clear picture of the situation; Hawaii has no school nurses and in many states only one nurse cares for 1,000 or more students. These statistics beg the question: Who in these schools is qualified to care for sick or injured students? Especially when you consider that school nurses must care for students who require not just treatment for headaches and minor scrapes, but chronic conditions (such as diabetes and asthma) and mental health issues.

The school nurse shortage, which Donna Mazyck, NASN executive director, says she believes is the result of shrinking budgets, leads to overwork and burnout for the existing nurses. Many school nurses provide care to students in more than one school, sometimes working with health assistants who call the nurse with questions if he or she is in another location.

Schools in Cincinnati, Ohio are addressing the nurse shortage by partnering with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and opening health centers in schools to serve students and the community.

Source: CBS This Morning


The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or recommendations of the American Nurses Association, the Editorial Advisory Board members, or the Publisher, Editors and staff of American Nurse Journal. This has not been peer reviewed.


  • kathy pirolli
    April 17, 2019 8:24 am

    Schools in Cincinnati, Ohio are addressing the nurse shortage by partnering with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and opening health centers in schools to serve students and the community

    This is not the answer.. The answer is to budget for the school nurse, who btw is usually very underpaid.with little to no resources…..thus the shortage…

    • Agreed. In an environment of “educators” the RN”s skill set and experience is often not respected and in many schools here in New York, they are represented not by the Teacher’s Unions, but are placed in with the custodians and/or aide staff. There is very little leverage, particularly because there is only “one Nurse Per school”, if that, to advocate for ourselves and the students that are most impacted by this trend.
      Often unseen are the students with anxiety, students being bullied and even victims of child abuse at home, that seek care from the Nurse who is seen by them as a “safe , nurturing staff member”. The value of the nurse/student interactions (and the Nurses’ Assessment and careful documentation of these problems) , in ensuring that these students access the school and community services and referrals to mental health counseling that they need, cannot be overstated. Often, however, the Nurse remains under the radar and her value as an important member of the team is overlooked. So when it’s time to cut the budget the Nurse is often the first to go with no one to advocate for the important role that she plays.

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