During a typical day, school nurses deal with plenty of bumps and bruises, playground scrapes, ear infections, and kids with colds. They’re also equipped to deal with more serious conditions, including allergic reactions.
With the growing number of food allergies among children, school nurses are expected to keep track of dozens of kids with a wide array of food allergies. Catherine Fisers, a nurse at an Australian elementary school, commented “Since I’ve been here those numbers have almost doubled.” Of her job, she says “”Every day is different. I can be attending to someone who has a broken arm or it could be a day full of grazes and cuts.” She also treats a growing number of allergic reactions.
Peace of Mind
While the school where she works has not had an anaphylactic incident, there are several children with life-threatening food allergies. She says that having a full-time school nurse on hands provides peace of mind for these students’ parents, who live with the constant fear that their child will eat the wrong food.
Anna Shield, whose 7-year-old son Bailey attends the school and has allergies to tree nuts and egg, says she feels less anxious knowing that there’s a nurse in the building. “When he was first diagnosed at 14 months I remember feeling a bit sick each morning when I took him to childcare at the possibility that someone could make a mistake and that would be it,” she explained. “You really had to trust the people you were handing your child over to, that they knew what they were doing.”
Having a nurse there to treat allergic reactions provides peace of mind, but it isn’t an excuse to forego other precautions. Shield says “We are still cautious but having the nurse and the strategies the school has in place gives us a lot of confidence and I don’t walk around feeling as anxious.”
No More Nurses?
Clearly, school nurses play an important role in keeping students with food allergies safe from harm. Yet due to budget cuts, their positions have been eliminated at countless schools around the globe, which no longer have a nurse on-site during the school day.