School nurses benefit students and society to the tune of $98 million
The 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.
A study of the Massachusetts Essential School Health Services program in 2009-2010 compared money spent putting full time nurses into schools with the money saved by reduced physician’s visits, lost parent work time, and lost teaching time. Over 475,000 students in 933 schools in 78 school districts were provided school health services by full time registered nurses during that school year.
The results show that for every dollar invested, $2.20 was saved overall – a net benefit of more than $98 million to society (JAMA Pediatrics, “Cost-Benefit Study of School Nursing Services”).
It is our hope that all school districts recognize the extraordinary and valuable services school nurses and health professionals provide to students, and in turn, society as a whole. To my knowledge, this study is the first to put a dollar value to the services school nurses provide, and I’d love to hear and learn about other studies with similar goals. If you’re aware of groundbreaking research in the area of school health services, please comment below and tell us about it!
Download the 2013-14 Annual Report for stats on nurse to student ratio in independent schools!