School nurses celebrate 100 years of addressing health needs of Minnesota children


The H1N1 strain may be a “novel” virus, but it is nothing new to school nurses in Minnesota, who are celebrating 100 years of professional service in the state. Ceremonies scheduled for Friday will honor the 10 decades of valuable contributions made by school nurses to the health of children and communities. Never ones to miss an education opportunity, planning committee members are also offering an education session focusing on the worldwide influenza epidemic. Attendees will examine operational models that will prepare school nurses for vaccine implementation and offer cutting-edge strategies for overall outbreak management.

Virginia Rice
Virginia Rice, St. Paul’s first school nurse, blazed a trail for many others in her profession.

“Early visionaries determined the inescapable link between health and education,” said Ann Hoxie, RN, president of the 350-member School Nurse Organization of Minnesota. “School nurses provide a key service to keep children healthy, reduce absences and help assure academic success.”

The commitment to addressing the health needs of Minnesota children in schools began in the fall of 1909 when infectious diseases, poverty, immigration, truancy and lack of social services acted as a catalyst for hiring Virginia Rice as the first school nurse for the St. Paul Public Schools. Today, for many uninsured and underinsured families, school nurses are the frontline health care provider.

“A lack of access to a school nurse can lead to disruption of the child’s school day, expensive trips to the emergency room and delays in the care of chronic and preventable illnesses,” said Hoxie.

The National Association of School Nurses will be represented at Friday’s celebration by President Sandi DeLack, RN, who is leading the organization in its collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Health and Education in the effort to protect school-aged children from H1N1.

DeLack applauded the state organization, saying “NASN congratulates the School Nurses of Minnesota association on 100 years of excellence in providing school health services and advancing the practice of school nursing. SNOM has a rich history of developing strong leaders and advocates for children’s health. They exemplify voice, vision, and visibility in their passion and dedication to ensure that all students in MN are safe, healthy, and ready to learn.”

school nurseSNOM’s event will begin at 4:30 p.m. with a reception, followed by the educational program, dinner and festivities. It will take place at the Doubletree Hotel in St. Louis Park.

The Minnesota Nurses Association also saluted the work of its colleagues in School Nurses Organization of Minnesota. Representing the interest of SNOM in 1961, MNA successfully championed legislation mandating certification of school nurses by the Board of Teaching.

For more information
Learn more about SNOM and Friday’s events at the organization’s website