Date of this Version
To provide a high-quality education for all its students, schools must address a variety of needs that are related to physical, social and/or emotional health. School nurses are positioned to do that in the schools that they serve. Exploring how the school nurse intervenes to help children and their families to maintain a high level of health may contribute to an understanding of health care and academic achievement in the educational community. The purpose of this qualitative study is to gain an understanding of what a nurse does on a regular basis to provide health care to all children in a public school at the preventive and primary care levels in the United States health care delivery system. In an effort to contribute to existing knowledge about the relationship between health and education outcome, this year-long study utilized an ethnographic approach to examine what a particular school nurse does within the context of an elementary school with an enrollment of over 500 students and a 92% poverty rate. The findings strongly support that the school nurse interacts with children and staff in caring ways to: 1) negotiate daily medication administration to manage chronic illnesses according to district policy and nursing practice; 2) manage the treatment of episodic health complaints; and 3) record and communicate health information. Together they provide an understanding of the school nurse ‘caring for’ and ‘caring about’ children’s health to improve the possibility that they will be in their classroom.
Adviser: Stephen A. Swidler