This Shanker Institute study was designed to determine the feasibility of collecting school nurse-generated data on selected child health and education outcomes. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) School Nurse Advisory Committee agreed that the dearth of research on school nursing’s impact on school and child outcomes limited its ability to argue effectively against school nurse cuts or advocate for additional school nursing positions. Evidence to protect school nurse positions is largely anecdotal. Data is necessary to support the argument that the school nurse and school nursing services to children play an essential role in assuring that students are healthy, in school, and ready to learn.Yet, when projects have been undertaken to collect comprehensive data when nurses’ jobs are at risk, the school nurses’ response -- they must take the time to collect the data -- has not been sufficient. This study was designed to explore this issue and found that data collection is feasible by busy school nurses if the data items were clearly important, limited to a few data points and conducted over a limited time period.
The school nurses who participated in this study embraced the importance of the endeavor to provide data that describes what they do. It is important for school nurses who advocate for student health to be knowledgeable about their caseloads and characteristics of the student population as well as the literature that supports the positive outcomes of school nursing practice. This pilot study lays a foundation for school nurse data collection that measures the impact of school nurse presence and interventions on child health and education.
The study has already advised work and guided the methodology on the NASN/ NASSNC Joint Project (2014) to identify a Core Uniform Data Set collected nationally. The project, Stand Up and Be Counted, Standardized Data Set For School Nursing Services, is in its first year with data being collected on three data points (number of school nurses, number of students with diagnosed chronic d conditions; disposition of children seen by the school nurse) in 50 states. Ultimately, the goal is to develop a national data set that accurately measures the health care administered to students in school daily. (the entire study will be published and posted later in February).