You may have heard that the United States is experiencing a nursing shortage crisis, with swarms of nurses leaving the field due to stress and burnout.
We might mainly consider how hard the mass exodus hits hospitals, but the nationwide shortage greatly affects schools as well.
According to a survey conducted by the National Association of School Nurses in 2021, over a third of schools across the country do not have a full-time registered nurse, forcing teachers and other staff members to step in.
While other school staff may be up to the task, that is no replacement for a school nurse who is professionally trained to handle injuries and respond to medical emergencies. It also prevents teachers and administrators from doing their actual jobs.
These days, school nurses are more essential than ever, what with the rising rates of chronic illnesses and mental health crises among students. For some students, school nurses are the only access they have to health care.
High stress, underappreciation, and low pay all contribute to the ongoing school nurse shortages. School nurses are often stretched to their limits while on the job.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends having at least one full-time nurse for every 750 students, but in most schools, they are falling below the requirement. In some cases, like in California, there is only one nurse for every 2,410 students.
School nurses usually have to handle medical emergencies alone, without any other trained health staff to assist them.
Furthermore, the work they do is often underappreciated. School nurses do more than just give out band-aids and ice packs.