School nurse Suzanne Folkner examines a patient.
Denise Lane’s day starts well before the sun comes up. She arrives at Dobyns-Bennett High School and rides a school bus to the home of a special needs student. It’s her responsibility to accompany that student back to school.
Lane, a licensed practical nurse in her fourth year at D-B, spends the rest of the school day in the clinic. More often than not, the first patients arrive within minutes of the clinic’s 7 a.m. opening.
Lane is one of two nurses employed full-time to serve the nearly 1,900 students at Dobyns-Bennett. She’s joined by Melissa Caldwell, a registered nurse, who is in her first year at the school. Caldwell ends her day on the school bus, accompanying the same student back home.
The first public health nurse was placed in a public school setting in October 1902 in New York City. The extraordinary work of that first school nurse in reducing school absenteeism due to communicable diseases led to the employment of school nurses in New York City and across the country, according to the National Association of School Nurses. As more and more nurses were hired, the role of the school nurse expanded to include an emphasis on student wellness, disease prevention and health education.
Today’s school nurses deal with even more challenges.
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