School can be a stressful place for students, especially for those with special circumstances like asthma. As a School Nurse I would like to encourage you to keep us in the loop of your student’s asthma. Every student experiences asthma differently and their asthma management is specific to them. With open communication, continuous education and planning managing your student with asthma at school will run smoothly. Keeping the School Nurse updated on medication changes, even sending a quick e-mail to let us know when the last nebulizer treatment was given ensures continuation of care for your student when they are not feeling their best. Notifying the Health Office about triggers and ER visits gives us the information we may otherwise not know to keep a closer eye on them when they may be struggling at school. We want to be there to support, to comfort and the intervene as appropriate to allow your student to have the best possible educational experience.
To ensure that your care team is providing the most appropriate care for your student please have your physician complete an Asthma Action Plan. Having documentation of all medications, expectations, triggers and interventions supports the School Nurse not only in caring for your student but also in educating the school staff on how to act when they are with the student until the School Nurse arrives. Knowing exactly what to expect and do in the time of need for those nonmedical staff members builds confidence and awareness to subtle changes that may otherwise not be identified.
Medications are key to managing asthma. Having a rescue inhaler at school is essential. The most stressful situation a student can be in, is having the need for their inhaler and waiting for someone to bring it in from home. Having one on hand in the Health Office so the student can be assessed and treated within minutes can get them the support needed and back to class without incident. It is important for the students to not only know what medications they are taking, but also to know why they are taking them and what side effects they may experience. The School Nurse has the opportunity to reinforce medication education, proper inhaler/nebulizer usage and assess for effectiveness at every dose they administer.
As a School Nurse here are the top things, I want every student and parent/guardian to know about managing asthma at school:
- Communication is so very important – let us know what is going on with your asthma!
- Medications are essential for asthma management
- Have an rescue inhaler available at school
- New medication orders are required for every new school year
- Communicate last dose given
- Education at home and at school about asthma, medications and management, supports the student in building confidence and ownership of self-care
- Provide the School Nurse with an Asthma Action Plan completed by your Physician
- The School Nurse is your advocate for any health-related issues in school
- Acts as team leader to educate staff about student care
- Advocates for health-related accommodations
- Liaison between physician and school
Asthma in school doesn’t have to be stressful when we focus on the student and keep in mind communication, education and planning. When we do, we create a winning care team for the student and allow them to have a positive school experience.