Unlike a clinic or hospital setting, school nurses aren’t surrounded by their peers.
In addition, some may not have had a lot of course work on kids with chronic health conditions, said Lori S. Anderson, assistant professor at the UW-Madison School of Nursing.
To help fix that, Anderson developed an online resource to allow school nurses to get current information on chronic health conditions and to communicate with each other via an online forum.
“It definitely makes me feel connected,” said Laura Marty, Middleton High School nurse. “It’s nice all the information is there and concise. I trust it and it’s current.”
Anderson originally developed eSchoolCare with support from a federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, Division of Nursing. In addition to the online forum, it provides school nurses with expert-reviewed, up-to-date resources and best practices to support care of students with common chronic conditions such as asthma, allergies, cancer, diabetes and mental health disorders.
“It’s a whole area that has been increasing over the years,” Anderson said. “They can go to one trusted place to get information rather than searching online and wondering if it’s right.”
The web-based application is designed for use on an iPad but also is accessible on a desktop or laptop computer. The information is updated every six months and the app includes videos such as one on proper inhaler technique and a core set of sample forms that are needed for school-based care.
“It saves them time,” said Anderson about nurses who may be serving multiple schools.
Anderson is very familiar with the plight of the school nurse. Anderson would help her mother with screenings when she was a school nurse at Oconomowoc High School. Anderson’s first job out of nursing school was as a school nurse in Mukwonago, where she was responsible for 4,500 students spread across six school buildings in a rural area. She continued work in school nursing on and off for the next 20 years and went back to get an advanced degree and focus on school nursing,
As part of the grant, eSchoolCare is currently in use by 95 school nurses in 67 school districts primarily in rural areas in south-central Wisconsin.
Information on other chronic conditions such as seizure disorders, cardiac issues and obesity may be added in the future, Anderson said.