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HEALTHY CHILDREN ACHIEVE MORE

SCHOOL HEALTH SERVICES


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As part of the Section of Women’s, Children’s, and Family Health’s commitment to all children in the State of Alaska regardless of their health status or special needs, the School Health  Services Program supports comprehensive school health services ideally provided by professional school nurses. Over 133,000 children attend Alaska’s 54 public school districts. Federal laws mandate that each child has a right to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. 

School Nursing Services

School nursing, a specialized practice of nursing, protects and promotes student health, facilitates optimal development, and advances academic success. School nurses, grounded in ethical and evidence-based practice, are the leaders who bridge health care and education, provide care coordination, advocate for quality student-centered care, and collaborate to design systems that allow individuals and communities to develop their full potential.  Adopted by the National Association of School Nurses Board of Directors, February 2017.​

The school nurse is the professional who serves in a pivotal role to provide expertise and oversight of the provision of school health services, which address barriers to learning. School nurses serve as an extension of the public health system. They support student success by providing health care assessment, intervention, and follow-up for all children within the school setting. In 2018, 215 school nurses were employed by 7 of Alaska’s largest school districts.​ Other districts are looking for ways to support part time school nurses in their schools. 

School attendance is linked to academic success and graduation rates. A higher nurse to student ratio is associated with better attendance rates. School nurses improve attendance through health promotion, disease prevention and disease management. Students with a full-time school nurse have about half the student illness- or injury-related early releases as students from a school where no school nurse is present (Pennington & Delaney 2008, Wyman 2005).  More time in the classroom provides more time for learning and increases a student’s chance for success. School nurses keep students in school where they can learn.

School Health Nurse Consultant

To support school districts in their efforts to provide all students with a healthy and safe learning environment, the Section of Women’s, Children’s, and Family Health supports a School Health Nurse Consultant within the Division of Public Health. The School Health Nurse Consultant provides guidance regarding school health services to school districts upon their request.

Additionally, the School Health Nurse Consultant works with school districts across the state to:

  • ​Develop and update guidelines for school health services; 
  • Formulate school screening guidelines; 
  • Plan and offer educational opportunities for school nurses;
  • Support and provide resources for school nurse leaders across the state;
  • Collect and disseminate data regarding school health services in Alaska;
  • Encourage, provide resources, and consultation for districts with minimal health services;
  • ​Assist the Department of Education and Early Development with health policy directives.

School Health Nurse Advisory Committee (SHNAC)

The School Health Nurse Advisory Committee (SHNAC) was established in 2010 to provide program direction as well as to address current issues in school nursing practice; to attain consistent school nursing practice across Alaska via the development of guidelines for practice and trainings that reflect best practice and national standards; and to increase the understanding of the role of the school nurse in student success.

The committee meets monthly by teleconference and annually face-to-face and is comprised of school nurses and school nursing administrators/leaders statewide, from both urban and rural Alaska. Other participants include public health nurses, private school nurses, and related public health staff.  Contact the School Health Nurse Consultant for further information or for requests to bring school health issues or projects to this committee.​

For More Information Contact:

Barbara Pennington MSN, BSN, RN, NCSN​
School Health Nurse Consultant​

State of Alaska, Division of Public Health
Section of Women's, Children's, and Family Health
3601 C Street, Suite 322
Anchorage, AK 99503
907-269-7368
907-269-3465 fax

barbara.pennington@alaska.gov​



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