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J Sch Health. 2004 Jan;74(1):6-9.

Does the school nurse-to-student ratio make a difference?

Author information

1
North Carolina Dept. of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health, 404 St. Andrews Drive, Greenville, NC 27834, USA. mbg1119@mail.ecu.edu

Abstract

Public schools must provide an appropriate education for students with complex health needs. Chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes, social morbidities, injuries, and conditions that limit learning such as poor vision commonly affect school-aged children. School nurses often assume a leadership role in providing services for these children. However, although a national standard for school nurse/student ratio has been proposed, little research has examined the relationship between different school nurse-to-student ratios, level of health services provided in schools, and student outcomes. This study examined data in a 21-county region in eastern North Carolina served by a regional school nurse consultant. The school nurse-to-student ratio in these counties ranged from 1:451 to 1:7,440 based on full-time equivalencies. Two systems offered no school nursing services. Data from school years ending in 2000-2002 were considered in the analysis. A significant correlation was found between the increased presence of school nurses and services provided to children with diabetes (r = -.52, p = .000) and asthma (r = -.43, p = .002). Schools with better ratios provided more counseling services to children for social conditions such as depression and unintended pregnancy (r = -.38, p = .006), and more follow-up for school-related injuries (r = -.43, p = .003), and a higher percentage of children with vision problems received follow-up care (r = -.37, p = .007). A case analysis of one school district that experienced a significant improvement in nurse/student ratio over the study period provides further evidence that school nurses make a difference.

PMID:
15022369
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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