School nurses: undervalued, underfunded and overstretched
‘You're a school nurse, so what do you do?’, is a question that we hear on a daily basis from families, schools and other health professionals. Even though our role has been around since 1907 (Royal College of Nursing (RCN), 2017) people still have misconceptions, are confused or have no idea at all about the school nurse role.
The school nurse is a specialist professional who has undertaken the specialist practitioner's course and is tasked to provide health promotion to young people and the wider community. Health promotion is about raising the health status of individuals and communities and placing health higher up personal and public agendas (World Health Organization (WHO), 1986; Green and Tones, 2010; Scriven, 2017). School nurses are vital to health education and promotion in schools, bridging the gap between health and education. The school nursing role is underpinned by the Healthy Child Programme (Department of Health (DH); 2009), which created an evidence-based service specification to ensure every child has the best start in life.
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