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Nurse Recruitment: School Nurses Save Money

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, August 14th, 2014

A Massachusetts program that put full-time registered nurses in schools more than paid for itself by averting medical costs and lost work for parents and teachers, according to new research.

To save money, many school districts have cut or reduced the hours of school nurses in recent years, and nationwide less than half of public schools have a full-time nurse.

school nurse“The findings of this study suggest that from a societal perspective, the benefits of school nursing services may well exceed the cost for those services,” researcher Li Yan Wang reported. She led the research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent and School Health in Atlanta, Georgia.

The researchers compared money spent putting full-time nurses in schools with money the program saved by reducing doctors’ visits and keeping parents at work and teachers in front of the classroom.

For the 22 types of procedures school nurses performed during the study, the researchers calculated how much it would cost to go to a clinic or hospital for the same care.

To measure lost wages for parents, they determined the time parents would have to take off work if children were dismissed early, as well as how often they would have to come to school to help kids take their prescription medications if no nurse was on site.

Finally, to assess teacher productivity, they referred to an earlier study that found teachers spent 20 fewer minutes per day dealing with student health issues once a nurse was assigned to their school.

Wang and her colleagues calculated that every dollar invested in the school nurse program saved $2.20 overall, according to the findings published in JAMA Pediatrics.

“We haven’t looked at the number of emergency room visits saved, we have not looked at the number of hospitalizations saved . . . we have yet to look at the big savings,” Wang said. “This is just a drop in the bucket.”

School districts need to put getting a full-time school nurses back on the priority list. We need more nurses. To learn proven strategies for nurse recruitment and nurse retention visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today with questions and to customize this program for your staff.

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