AJN, American Journal of Nursing:
As the mother of three school-age children and a bachelor of science in nursing student about to graduate, I appreciated Gail M. Pfeifer's article, “Replacing School Nurses with Unlicensed Personnel” (In the News, December). The thought of budget cuts that affect school nursing makes me uneasy.
Unlicensed assistive personnel are a valuable resource for school nurses. However, if financial constraints shift the balance so that we have fewer RNs and more unlicensed assistive personnel in schools, I worry that the comprehensive scope of school nursing, as it has developed over more than a century, will be lost. School nurses respond to unexpected situations and administer medication or nursing care throughout the school day, but their assessments, collaborations, and promotion of health education are also essential to the long-term well-being of school communities (which, in many cases, are underserved).
Effectively executed delegation of health-related tasks by RNs to unlicensed assistive personnel will keep the health of our school communities a priority while preserving the broader aspect of the school nurse role. It could be the silver lining to the unfortunate reality of reduced numbers of RN staff in schools.
© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.