By Allison G. S. Knox
The industry of emergency medical services (EMS), like most industries, is constantly changing. For instance, the development of the community paramedicine program has kept more chronically sick patients out of emergency departments.
EMS leaders need to be abreast of industry changes and remain flexible to keep up with the health needs of their communities. Part of keeping up with industry changes is also coming to decision makers with open minds and an innovative attitude. One new idea that EMS leaders should consider is whether paramedics should be in school systems acting as school nurses.
Paramedics Have the Training to Handle the Health Needs of Students
Paramedics in the United States are commonly trained in emergency medicine and advanced life support. Also, paramedics are trained in giving medications through intravenous methods and can give pediatric patients a variety of different medications based on the protocols of the state where they work.
Why Not Have Paramedics Serve in the Role of School Nurses?
Most elementary, middle and high schools in the United States have a school nurse. This nurse verifies health forms and examines students when they have suffered physical trauma or aren’t feeling well.
However, school nurses won’t often treat patients. Instead, they will call parents to pick up their children from school if the child is sick or injured. If necessary, school nurses will call for an ambulance.
Considering the extent of the healthcare needed from a school nurse, schools could potentially employ paramedics to serve in this role. Using paramedics in schools would mean children would have immediate access to someone trained in emergency medicine during their time of need.
Schools do need public health professionals such as nurses to monitor the variety of illnesses that students have. But paramedics could easily do the same work.
Rethinking the Role of Paramedics
EMS leaders, especially those serving people in poor rural communities, need to carefully manage resources in their communities. There is already a nationwide shortage of school nurses, according to a 2021 article by Pew Research. But paramedics serving in the role of school nurses would make sense, fill in the nursing shortage gap and allow for more efficient use of community resources.