Category: School of Nursing

School nurses participate in a asthma exacerbation so they can sharpen their skills and be prepared for emergencies they face on the job. Shown here, a school nurse is listening to breath sounds on a high-fidelity mannequin while another school nurse watches.
Seventy-five school nurses from up and down Delaware gathered for School Nurse Professional Development Day on the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus. Here, school nurses take part in a simulation on asthma exacerbation so they can sharpen their skills and be prepared for emergencies they face on the job.

Supporting school nurses

October 30, 2023 Written by Amy Cherry | Photo by: Ashley Barnas

Innovative partnership between UD’s College of Health Sciences and school nurses aims to address pediatric health inequities

As a school nurse in the Indian River School District, Stacy Robinson has applied her fair share of band-aids; she’s handed out ice packs and dealt with lice. But the scope of the school nurse is far greater.

In most Delaware schools, a single school nurse cares for hundreds, even thousands, of children. From medical emergencies to verifying immunization records and conducting state-mandated vision and hearing screenings, the school nurse plays a vital role in pediatric healthcare. 

“We have a lot of difficulty accessing resources for our kids, and our population in southern Delaware is growing rapidly,” Robinson said. “Our kids deserve to see and eat comfortably and not have mouth pain and get treated for their illnesses in a timely manner.” 

Access to healthcare has always been something Robinson struggled with as a school nurse. In her nine years as a school nurse, no one had ever asked Robinson what she needed. 

“Being in Sussex County, we often feel like we have limited resources because we’re so rural and farther away from larger providers,” Robinson said. “Indian River is a huge school district, and we have needs unique to us, so we’re always looking for opportunities to advocate for ourselves.” 

That is, until the University of Delaware College of Health Sciences stepped in. Lauren Covington, assistant professor in the School of Nursing, and Freda Patterson, professor and associate dean of research for CHS, were strategizing ways to increase access to healthcare services for pediatric populations, particularly in southern Delaware. 

“Contacting school nurses was a great gateway to accessing children and their healthcare needs,” Covington said. 

With support from UD’s Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in Cardiovascular Health, Covington and Patterson organized a dinner last March following CHS Research Day that served as an active listening session. 

“It was an opportunity for school nurses to come together and talk about health priorities, the barriers they face in helping students, and their goals to improve pediatric health,” Covington said. “It was a really rich and vibrant discussion.” 

Seventy-five nurses from up and down the state attended, and from there, an authentic community partnership was born.

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