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Fewer School Nurses
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More Problems for US Health Care System: Fewer School Nurses

A USA TODAY analysis of U.S. Census data from 2005 to 2007 suggests that each school nurse cares, on average, for 971 students. In 13 states, the ratio is more than 2,000 to 1.

In its own 2007 survey, the National Association of School Nurses found the ratio was 1,151 students per nurse.

In either analysis, the nurse workload exceeds the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: one nurse per 750 students.

"Either way, it's not good for kids out there who have no safety net," says Amy Garcia, executive director of the National Association of School Nurses.

Further, the association recommends a 1-to-225 ratio for schools that require "daily professional school nursing services" and 1-to-125 in schools with "complex health care needs."

Data from the Department of Education, which examines only schools that have nurses, show that workloads for elementary school nurses have remained essentially unchanged since 1999 at about 455 students per nurse. But in secondary schools, workloads have grown 14%, from 733 students per nurse to 835.

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