Back to School: Lessons for parents of asthmatic children
My sister is busy shopping for school supplies for her three elementary-aged kids. School starts in less than three weeks. And what am I doing? Still reveling in the fact that the block Fourth of July party went so well! Back in "my day" kids didn't start school until after Labor Day, but there's one group of dedicated professionals who thinks about school year-round - school nurses.
I was fortunate to be able to attend the annual meeting for the National Association of School Nurses in Nashville, Tenn., a couple weeks ago. I have attended their meetings in the past -- and even though I didn't think it was possible, they were more enthusiastic than ever.
Lani Wheeler, M.D., presented a standing-room-only session titled "New Evidence Based Findings for School Nurses about Asthma Management in Schools." Her presentation was a summary of a special issue of the American School Health Association's Journal of School Health, August 2006, which features more than 25 research articles, brief reports, and case studies that cover asthma education programs for students and staff members, asthma-related health services and policy changes.
So..where do you come into this picture if you are not a school nurse? A comment from one of the nurses, "Parental compliance is the major problem!" (and the hearty agreement from the rest of the audience) haunts me.
How can you help your school nurse, as well as the rest of the staff, utilize the following lessons that were uncovered in the published study? Think of how you can plug into your school and its health program and make some true progress in the upcoming year.
- Establish strong links with asthma care clinicians to ensure appropriate and ongoing medical care.
- Instead of spending resources on asthma screening, assist already identified students who are most affected by asthma at school.
- Get administrative buy-in and build a team of enthusiastic people, including a full-time nurse, to support the program.
- Use a collaborative approach that includes school nursing services, asthma education and professional development for the school staff.
- As Dr. Phil would say, "How's it working for you?" Support evaluation of school-based programs and use adequate and appropriate outcome measures.
To access the complete resource visit www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/asthma/JOSH/index.htm.