I'm one of the odd balls of the world. I don't drink coffee, soda, or even tea. Essentially, my caffeine consumption hovers at zero grams per day - unless there's an exceptionally good piece of dark chocolate calling my name. But even a whole bar of dark chocolate doesn't amount to the same level of caffeine found in a single cup of coffee. Being a foreigner...

nurse_with_boarding_school_studentThe North Carolina state-wide goal for school nurse to student ratio is 1 to 750. In reality, NC public schools average 1 nurse to every 1,200 students. According to the Department of Health and Human Services' Annual School Health Services Report, the Wake County (where Magnus is located) ratio is 1 nurse to every 2,476 students.

As a company working with school nurses (both public and private) every day, we know how valuable and vital the presence of a school nurse is to students, parents, teachers, staff, and administration. Therefore we know these numbers are disturbing, and directly contradict our company-wide belief in better care. We also know we're not the only people with this mind-set, and that cutting school health services to save money is not the way to save money (or care for children) in the long run.

Ever wonder what emergency drills your school should be doing? Ever wonder how those drills should impact your school emergency plan? Ever wonder how often you should be drilling your emergency response plans? I'm happy to tell you, thanks to Chris Joffe, CEO of Joffe Emergency Services, I have answers for your burning questions.

The five most basic school emergency drills are: fire, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, and lockdown. Many schools know and execute these drills based on their geographic location.

There are then five more advanced drills: shelter in place, secure campus, active shooter, fallen aircraft, and sudden outbreak of contagious disease. These drills might not be executed nearly as often. For example, in a webinar we hosted with Joffe Emergency Services, 0% of the webinar attendees had ever drilled for fallen aircraft. That led us to ask, how often should school emergency drills, basic and advanced, be practed? Chris Joffe provided us with the guidelines below.

leahdowdIt's safe to say we've been asked more than just a couple times if and when Magnus would support student photos. I'm happy to tell you the answer is yes, and the time is now. The new feature is announced in the video below. But in case you don't have 2 minutes and 42 seconds to watch the whole video, skip on ahead and read the somewhat less entertaining recap.

The first time I sent my son to preschool, I probably overdid it. On Sundays, I made sure his little shirts and shorts were ironed for the entire week. I made Star Wars labels for all his clothes with his name and phone number. I packed cute sandwiches without the crust and left adorable post it notes inside his lunchbox even though he couldn’t read yet. And I knew his exact schedule down to the minute. That lasted about a year. Let’s just say that he can read very well now and writes me reminder notes for my lunchbox instead. But I still know his schedule not just because I’m his mom, but also because I’m one of those people who likes the details. Give me the “who, what, where, when, and why” and I’m a happy camper. These next Magnus enhancements are for all you detail lovers.

Healthy_school_snacksMmmm... snacks! I was always that kid in elementary school who couldn't wait more than an hour for my next snack or meal break. Between running around on the playground and growing 5 inches taller in one year, it was hard to keep hunger at bay - and I know my experience isn't unique.

When kids and teens are growing and burning off energy in sports and at recess, their appetites can rival a professional athlete's appetite. Grumbling stomachs can be heard in otherwise quiet classrooms, and between classes, you can find students stopping by a vending machine or the student snack store to quiet their appetite.

But are school snack options properly fueling students and their growing muscles? Are the school vending machines stocked with healthy school snacks that will keep students full for more than ten minutes? We've reached the point in time when our food and lifestyles are being critically assessed, and schools are no exception.

Imagine this…the fire alarm goes off but you know it’s not a drill. What happens next? Does your staff know who to communicate with and when, in order to get everyone to safety? Are there enough staff trained and prepared, who can lead the school to safety based on the plan that is outlined in that giant binder?

This scenario can happen at any time, during school hours or in the middle of the night. Whether it is a catastrophic emergency or a smaller contained issue, your staff will need to be prepared to deploy and facilitate the appropriate responses to each situation.

So the question is: How prepared is your staff to deploy the plan your administration painstakingly put into place?

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As the leading provider of emergency services for more than 100 schools, Joffe Emergency Services has seen the effects of emergency plans gone wrong. Here are the top 5 mistakes to avoid when it comes to emergency planning for your school.

Not long ago, the higher powers at Magnus asked all of us to take a personality assessment. They promised it would take only 15 minutes, so I said, "Alrighty, I'll do that right away." (Full disclosure: I have no clue what my actual response was.) Honestly, I've taken a number of similar assessments like this in years past, and I wasn't expecting to find a lot of groundbreaking information about myself or others. However, what I did find was both affirming and surprising.

isfpThere are 16 personalities and I am an ISFP. I carry this badge proudly - I'm an "artist" an "explorer" an "adventurer". I like those titles, but what I like more is proof to my coworkers and leaders that my brain functions differently than their own. And that's not specific to ISFPs, that's something each and every personality type can say. We're all wired differently, we communicate differently, are annoyed by different things, and thrive under different circumstances. This assessment was valuable not just because I have some affirmation and comfort in knowing I'm not alone (there are three other ISFPs here), and not just because the resulting information I read about ISFPs made me feel legitimized. This assessment was helpful because I can now see sides to my coworkers that I didn't know before.

I’ve never been much of a marathon runner. Okay, I’ve never been much of an exercise person in general unless you count carrying fifteen books home from the library. But when I heard about the Krispy Kreme 5K, I caved to peer pressure and signed up. How could I resist a good cause and a doughnut? Did I spend months training? Did I slowly work my way up to prime running form? Absolutely not. Climbing the hill up Peace Street was a beast. Without my Magnus teammates I would have thrown myself onto the sidewalk and happily quit. I staggered through, and promised myself to plan ahead next time and see the big hills coming.

This spring at Magnus we’re prepping for our very own back-to-school paperwork “marathon” which has its own set of hills. Some parents are already at the starting line in hypothetical sweatbands and track shorts. They’re ready to dash through paperwork before summer vacation. Cheering them on, we implemented a few simple new tools to help them finish in record time. Parents can now print blank forms and enjoy a new flow to the parent experience.

social_media_starter_guideI remember the days when Facebook was by invite only, and when U.S. Senators started Tweeting and we all thought they were crazy. Little did we know how much social media would evolve, and how integral it would become to our everyday lives.

Now, every school has a Facebook page where student projects and basketball game pictures are regularly shared, while businesses and organizations take to Twitter and LinkedIn to share resources and news - all of which educators and school staff members can use to develop their career. 

We love Electronically Signed Documents, and we love helping schools switch traditional printed forms over to a secure customized online form that never needs to be printed. But as swell as ESD’s are, some schools (and state laws) still require a healthcare professional to sign paper forms. Over-the-counter medication forms and often action plans could require a scrawled “Dr. Jane Smith, MD” across the bottom to be accepted. So we’ve added a simple label that tells parents which blank forms need to go with them to see Dr. Jane.

In truth by the end of the summer, my back to school reality is dashing out the door to see Dr. Jane with an armful of papers and if I’m lucky, a giant iced coffee. There are quite a few Magnus moms and dads who fight the same back to school paperwork battle. So when one of the top requests from our parents was to create a clear way to see which forms need to be signed by a doctor, we were all ears. School nurses chimed in that this was a frustrating issue they also heard from parents, so really, this new feature was win-win.

So for parents (like me) who are flying out the door like Elphaba’s monkeys on the way to appointments, now they can easily see which forms they need to take with them to the doctor.

10_facts_concussionsAthletes take on numerous risks each time they step on the field, hop in the pool, or skate onto the ice. One of those risks is head injuries. Regardless of whether or not an athlete participates in contact sports, a sport-related concussion (SRC) could happen to almost any athlete, at any time. That's why each coach, school nurse, and athletic trainer should have the most recent information on concussion diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation.

That's also why we took notes from our guest expert Missy Fraser, MS, ATC, from the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related TBI Research Center, and compiled this list of ten facts you should know about sport-related concussions.

With all of the recent news attention that vaccines have been getting, it would be remiss not to discuss the challenges around meeting immunization requirements in a school setting. With mandates that vary from one state to the next, schools constantly struggle to collect all of the necessary documentation for each of their students. Schools are required to show proof that their students are either up-to-date on immunizations or have a documented medical or religious exemption. Some states will also accept a personal belief or philosophical exemption.child_vaccine_immunization

But let’s save the debate on whether or not to immunize for another time, and instead talk about ways to meet your state’s requirements. Achieving compliance is no small task. It may involve sending reminder letters in the mail, making numerous phone calls, and pulling kids out of class until all of their requirements are met.

Here are a few tips to help get the job done:

Last year's Magnus Academy attendees got a special treat when they came to visit us in Raleigh, NC. They received an all-access pass to Magnus HQ! From our bright orange walls to the holiday lights that hung around until late July, our clients saw our office in all of its glory - and all of its distractions. They saw the gong that our Client Services team...

Although I enjoyed school, I can't say that my study habits or test preparation skills were quite up to par. More often than not, I'd spend the night before a big test cramming as much into my overtired brain as possible, then I'd regurgitate it the next day and hope for the best. Now, I'm not saying this blog is going to change the fact that students have always, and will continue to procrastinate, but maybe you can use these tips to help encourage students to better prepare for the big tests coming their way.

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When I think about Valentine's Day, I will admit my first thought is about the candy that goes on sale the day after. Chocolate and candied hearts abound. It's a happy thought. But this year, I decided to dig a little deeper, and what I found is that school nurses and Valentine's Day have quite a bit in common - six big items in fact.

bigstock-Sub-Sandwich-72526534To those of you reading this blog who want to know more about Magnus, I’m issuing an open invitation to have lunch. There’s no better way to get to know someone than by sharing a meal. I love to eat, but my one rule is that we can’t eat boring food.  To me a boring sandwich is criminal. You know the kind I’m talking about, a mushy square of slimy boiled ham and yellow plastic wrapped cheese with a swipe of mayo. Ugh. It may just be my Italian New Jersey roots talking, but I’d jazz that ham sandwich up with some thin salami, a little provolone, arugula, tomato, and roasted peppers in olive oil with garlic and oregano on thick sliced toasted artisan bread. Now that’s delicious! (Can we add anchovies?) Food, like medical records, can be so mundane and boring, but they’re both essential.  Properly documented medical records save lives, help nurses keep students healthy and frankly are required by law. I’m reminded of Roz from Monster’s Inc. “You forgot to file your paperwork.” How do I deal with the boring factor? It’s really simple. I make a food analogy.

When I approach product management and student medical records, I want to make a thick juicy Italian sandwich and not the shrink-wrapped gas station fare. The fun part is melding all the tasty feature requests into something that can make your jobs easier, keep your students safer and manage student health information efficiently. As a mom, and an Irish-Italian mom at that, I love a healthy, well-fed family. I also like a team that plays well together and builds good software on time. The tricky part is that just like your family or your school, not everyone likes the same things or has the same schedule. Sound familiar?

New Jersey became the 19th state to pass a law requiring high school students to learn CPR and how to use defibrillators in order to graduate. The law takes effect for the graduating class of 2019, and supports Janet's Law - existing legislation requiring schools to have an AED on school property. Both laws were put in place to save lives.

For details on the new law, check out these resources: 

In total, 20 states have with similar CPR legislation, including: Washington, Idaho, Utah, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware (most recent), New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, Minnesota, and Iowa.

Find out where your state stands on CPR legislation in this American Heart Association interactive map.

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