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School nurses who only care for children with special needs: working in a teacher’s world

Publication year
Kruger, B. J.; Radjenovic, D.; Toker, K. H.; Comeaux, J. M.

Published qualitative studies have not focused on nurses who solely care for children with special health care needs. The purpose of this study was to explore and describe (a) the work of school nurses who care exclusively for these children, (b) nurses’ interaction with parents, staff, or providers, and (c) the challenges, benefits, and support for their role. Data from on-site observation and in-depth interviews with experienced, long-term employed nurses (n = 13) were analyzed using qualitative descriptive inquiry. Performing a personally satisfying clinical role, school nurses adapted to a "teachers world" by working alone, feeling responsible; begging, bartering, and subsidizing; and embracing school as family. They bridged home and school by doing for children, building relationships with parents, and knowing the child. Nurses need to be supported through peer supervision and adequate resources to provide family-centered care to students in a setting dominated by education professionals.

Research abstracts