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School nurses are sorely needed, but often absent

Two women stand in two different open doorways that face a hallway.
A medical assistant and a family nurse practitioner who work in Thronton High School's health clinic in Colorado. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

About 25% of schools across the country have no nurse on staff, while 40% have only a part-time nurse, according to National Association of School Nurses data reported by USA Today.

The big picture: If students “don’t have access to a trained medical professional, and something happens, we could be looking at a catastrophe,” a parent leader in Manhattan's Upper West Side told the Wall Street Journal last year in a report that found New York City is undergoing the worst school nurse shortage in 15 years.

The bottom line: School nurses have an increasingly important job. They provide vital care for diabetic students with fluctuating insulin shot requirements, students with severe allergies, students with suicidal thoughts, handle concussions, and often collaborate with school psychologists and social workers when other mental health resources are tight, per USA Today.