School health services staff can help all students with preventive care such as flu shots, vision and hearing screening, and acute and emergency care. School health services staff also are responsible for coordinating care by communicating with the student’s family and health care providers so that they can stay healthy and ready to learn. The US CDC model for school health services shows how school health services use various methods to support students.
School nurses, the foundation of school health services, are licensed healthcare professionals working in educational settings and play a vital role in student success. They incorporate standards of nursing practice, coordination of care, leadership, and public health into schools on a daily basis.
School Health Services Model, U.S. CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019
School nurses straddle two statutory and regulatory frameworks: health and education. Because school nurses practice nursing in an educationally focused system, they face unique legal, policy, funding, and supervisory issues with unique ethical dimensions.
The National Association of School Nurses has developed a Code of Ethics for school nurses based on the American Nurses Association Center for Ethics and Human Rights.
Framework for 21st Century School Nursing Practice™
Used with permission from the National Association of School Nurses
School Health Advisor
Since 1985, school administrative units have been required to appoint a school health advisor who plays an important role in the school district’s health program. The school health advisor functions as part of a health team addressing health issues of the student population in the school district. Working collaboratively with school administration, school health advisory councils, and school nurses, school health advisors can have an influential role in implementing effective health programs that reach all children in the district. Although the school nurse is generally the primary provider of health services within a school, the school health advisor plays a critical role in guiding the policies and practices of health services provided at school. A sample contract is available if needed.
NASN’s Framework for 21st Century School Nursing PracticeTM (the Framework) provides structure and focus for the key principles and components of current day, evidence-based school nursing practice. It is aligned with the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model that calls for a collaborative approach to learning and health (ASCD & CDC, 2014). Central to the Framework is student-centered nursing care that occurs within the context of the students’ family and school community. Surrounding the students, family, and school community are the non-hierarchical, overlapping key principles of Care Coordination, Leadership, Quality Improvement, and Community/ Public Health. These principles are surrounded by the fifth principle, Standards of Practice, which is foundational for evidence-based, clinically competent, quality care. School nurses daily use the skills outlined in the practice components of each principle to help students be healthy, safe, and ready to learn.
Emily Poland, MPH, RN, NCSN
School Nurse Consultant
Coordinated School Health Team Leader