Pa. May Allow Schools To Do Away With Registered Nurses

CUMRU TWP., Pa. - Public school districts in Pennsylvania could soon have the option of replacing school nurses with someone who has lesser qualifications.

Jennifer McElwee, a certified school nurse at Cumru Elementary School in Berks County, said her degree has taught her how to react to the needs of the students.

"One thing I love about being a school nurse is that every day's different," said McElwee. "You don't know what you're going to walk into."

McElwee's job, however, may be threatened.

The Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday will discuss a bill that would allow school districts to replace certified school nurses with someone who has lesser qualifications.

For parents, McElwee said that means the person helping your child may not be a registered nurse.

McElwee said her job is much more than following directions on the back of a medicine box.

"You have to have that knowledge base to be able to pull from, to be able to deal with those situations that just pop up," said McElwee.

Recent reports show full-time nurses in public schools are disappearing.

In fact, only 45 percent of public schools in the United States have a full-time, on-site nurse.

There are 77 certified school nurses in Berks County.

McElwee said she also takes care of kids with advanced medical needs, like tube feedings and seizure disorders. She said the notion of not having that could be dangerous for students.

"It's a danger to the child and what we should be thinking about when dealing with a school is what's best for the child," said McElwee.

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Allentown, PA 18102




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