Patients of the Future: A Survey of School Nurse Competencies with Implications for Nurse Executives in the Acute Care Settings

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Abstract

School nursing in the United States has been in existence for many decades but has become increasingly more complex, as student health needs have escalated and the role itself has expanded in scope of practice. Given the changes in health care delivery mandated by the Patient Safety and Affordable Care Reform Act, and the increasing complexity of school nursing practice, it is important to determine whether nurses who enter this area of practice are educationally prepared to do so. The objective of this study was to determine the perceptions of currently practicing school nurses regarding their baccalaureate nursing education and whether they felt adequately prepared to effectively practice as a school nurse. The survey The Perceptions of School Nurses' Educational Preparation: Survey of Washington State School Nurses was sent to school nurses in Washington State. This was a descriptive, quantitative online survey that asked school nurses to assess their initial nursing education and whether their baccalaureate preparation adequately prepared them for this specialty role. There are a total of 17 school nurse standards, and 8 of the standards (47%) were identified as minimally achieved upon graduation. In addition, school nurses self-assessed gaps in their ongoing continuing educational needs, such as needing additional education regarding special education laws (81%), 504 accommodations (90.5%), diabetic care (76%), and delegation skills (68.6%). The findings from this study have illustrated the need for additional didactic and clinical practicum components that could be incorporated into baccalaureate nursing programs to better prepare graduates for school nursing practice in Washington State. Participants were able to identify areas in need of further education within their baccalaureate program, and also during their orientation to the role and responsibilities of a school nurse. Nurse executives must be able to use this knowledge to support staff nurses with an understanding of school nurses' increasing responsibilities to improve both inpatient care and outpatient support.

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