My T1D Care Team: School Nurses

Today’s guest blog comes to us from Sarah Butler, MS, RN, CDE, NCSN. Sarah is the Director of Diabetes and Nursing Education at the National Association of School Nurses.

November is National Diabetes Awareness month, an opportunity to learn more about the contributions school nurses make as important members of the healthcare team supporting students with diabetes.

The school nurse works with the student, family, and student’s healthcare providers to create a school environment that keeps the student healthy, safe, and ready to learn.  The school nurse leads the school health team in meeting the needs of students with diabetes along a continuum of care from providing direct care, supporting developmentally appropriate self-management, and ultimately transitioning to independence after high school graduation.

An Individualized Healthcare Plan (IHP), developed by the school nurse in partnership with the student, family, and healthcare providers, provides the foundation for how the child’s diabetes needs and goals will be consistently met in school. The IHP is based on the healthcare provider orders, and requires a nursing assessment to tailor interventions used to meet the health needs of students that address developmental factors of the student, the school environment, and the school personnel needed to be part of the students’ school health team. 

Education is an essential component of the care coordination that school nurses provide as they implement the IHP and provide continued oversight to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan in the school setting. The school nurse:

  • Works directly to educate students – for example, helping them learn to rotate injection sites, and problem-solve a blood glucose reading;
  • Provides education to teachers and other school personnel who have direct contact with the student – for example, how to recognize the student’s unique signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia; 
  • Educates school administrators on the legal rights of the student with diabetes, and on the special needs of the student with diabetes in a lock-down or disaster; and
  • Provides education to the family on managing diabetes at school, and connects them to community resources.

The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) offers professional development and resources for school nurses so that they are fully prepared to meet the needs of students with diabetes and their families. NASN partners with the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) and develops resources that school nurses can use to educate students with diabetes, families, teachers, administrators, and other school personnel.

As we reflect this NDAM, remember to thank the school nurses who work hard to keep your children and students safe.

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