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Health Equity: School Nurses at the Forefront

By NASN Inc posted 06-29-2023 09:00


We are pleased to share the excerpt below from Kate King's final AAP Council on School Health (COSH) Newsletter submission as she prepares to transition off the COSH Executive Committee and into her role as President of NASN.

You can view the entire piece here.

Health equity, or rather inequity, in our country has been a major area of concern for a long time, and the COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on health disparities and inequities for not only health care providers but also the public. Health care access, utilization, and provision for populations of people living in poverty and people of color were brought into focus as the pandemic progressed. We now have the opportunity to improve health equity across our nation. The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity report has identified the role of nurses, especially community health nurses and school nurses, as critical to the progress and success of this endeavor. School nurses are uniquely positioned to advance health equity for students and their families. 

The Future of Nursing report recognizes nurses as "catalysts for change" and "trusted bridge builders." School nurses have certainly been recognized as the bridge builders between education and health care in schools. This report adds additional levels of complexity to that role, acknowledging that school nurses are the bridge between health care, education, and community systems, and health equity for our students, families, and staff. School nurses focus on physical and mental health and are experts in addressing social determinants of health such as homelessness, food insecurity, and poverty all in the context of the educational environment. Under-resourced communities rely on school nurses for vaccines, health screening and referrals for vision, hearing, and dental concerns, and other health care services related to chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, allergies, seizure disorders, and sickle-cell disease. Access to a school nurse is indeed a health equity issue for our students and families in addressing complex health needs, social needs, and ensuring safe and healthy environments. Utilizing the National Association of School Nurses' (NASN) Framework for 21st Century School Nursing Practice™ and aspiring to the vision of NASN "that all students are healthy, safe and ready to learn," school nurses are on the front lines of health equity.