However, in today's world the school nurse position is not given the resources necessary to accomplish this goal and the role has become so unmanageable and the task so encompassing it may be placing education and students at risk.
The number of students taking Ritalin has doubled since 1990 and now exceeds 3 million students (Goldberg, 1). The over worked nurses must medicate these students to insure the proper dose to the correct student. The pervasiveness of lunchtime medication has become so involved and lines of children outside nurses' offices so prevalent, that in Boston, schools are now facing a challenging dilemma; Who should have responsibility for the medicating According to Carey Goldberg, reporter for the New York Times, "...school officials have proposed that individual nurses be given permission to delegate the distribution of their ''meds'' to handpicked, supervised staff members". Many nurses who advocate the addition of higher paid nurses as a solution rather than reducing their roles have discredited the plan as unsafe. However, school officials see it as a reasonable cost cutting measure in this New World of psychoactive drugs. Untrained personnel handing out sensitive and dangerous drugs are certainly placing the students at an increased risk.
School nurses are called upon to walk obese students, insert catheters, and administer diabetic insulin. These are disciplines that call on the highest order of medical training. Food poisoning, infectious diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, and injuries from student violence complicate these situations. The nurse is required to perform the duties of a general practitioner while having the training of a nurse and the attendant pay scale. Still, school systems balk at the possibility of adding more nurses to the staff due to cost considerations. While the National Association of School Nurses recommends that a school system have one nurse per 750 students, the national average is one nurse per 1350 students (Vail). Attending to the students medical needs should be a priority to assure that the system is promoting adequate and fair education, but staffing at a 50% level can not guarantee success of the health of the student body.
Obesity is running rampant through the school corridors and nutrition and healthy food have come into the spotlight. Once again, the school nurse is called on to make recommendations and plans to provide a healthy diet and reduce the problem of overweight children. Nutrition is a special discipline and often runs counter to the school's agenda of providing vending machines and a junk food cafeteria. There is more profit in a McDonald's station than there is in a healthy dietary offering. The American Medical Association advocates a proactive approach based on food types and amounts that are to be offered through school lunches ("Expert Committee Recommendations", 8). Dedicated school nurses can not be expected to protect the health of children in the existing political and economical climate of many school boards. They are not trained as nutritionists and do nor serve the political function of being socially