Editor, Parents should be able to send their children to school with the peace of mind that they will remain safe and healthy. Given that today’s children face more chronic health illnesses — asthma, diabetes, food allergies, etc. — than ever before, I take my role as a licensed, professional school nurse very seriously. I am grateful for the teachers, administrators and professional support staff with whom I work each day. They help to create a healthy learning environment for every child in the Liberty County School System. My knowledge, assessment skills and judgment help to ensure I can provide quality health care to children.
A school nurse takes on a variety of roles every day. I am the only health professional many children have access to, except in emergencies. This becomes even more important as the prevalence of chronic social, emotional and other health problems increases. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 10 percent of school-aged children have asthma. Additional research suggests that asthma is responsible for 13 million missed school days each year. Further, obesity has nearly tripled among 12- to 19-year-olds. Today, approximately one in every 500 children and adolescents has type 1 or type 2 diabetes. And three children in every classroom have a diagnosed food allergy, according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. School nurses help develop, implement and monitor individualized care plans for these students.
It seems like common sense that healthier students are better learners. But evidence-based research in fields ranging from neuroscience and child development to epidemiology and public health support this argument. Our elected officials must invest in programs and services that seek to improve the health and well being of all children.
We recently observed National School Nurse Day and National Nurses Week, but the appreciation shouldn’t stop there. Please join me in honoring the school nurses of Liberty County.
— Carol Darsey, RN
lead nurse, Liberty County School System
president, Georgia Association of School Nurses