APRIL, 2015

In 2008, the Montana Association of School Nurses (MASN) began a grass roots campaign to establish a ratio of one registered, professional school nurse to every 750 students in Montana.  As this ratio is the national standard, MASN conducted a survey of school nurses in Montana to identify the nurse to student ratio in Montana as 1 RN school nurse to 2300 students.  This ratio ranked Montana #45 of 50 states in the country.  In addition, 19 of 56 counties had no school nursing services at all.

Montana School Nurses, acutely aware that healthy students achieve greater success in the classroom, have since advocated mightily for the increased presence of school nurses in every Montana school.

Due to the efforts of Montana school nurses, this issue has been addressed by the Chapter 55 Subcommittee of the Office of Public Instruction.  MASN has submitted proposed rule language that would mandate a statewide 1:750 school nurse to student ratio through the Administrative Rules of Montana.

The 2012 data showed some progress had been made in the school nurse to student ratio, identifying the ratio as 1 school nurse to 1985 students in 2012. This moved Montana up to 42nd of 50 states in school nurse to student ratio. Unfortunately, the improvement was not uniform throughout the state; 26 of the 56 Montana counties had no school nursing services in 2012. Three counties then had a ratio of 1:750 or fewer.

Currently, there are 83.4 RN school nurse FTEs statewide, an increase from 66.4 in 2009 and 72.8 in 2012. The ratio of 1 school nurse to 1728 students shows an improvement from 1 to 2300 in 2009 and 1 to 2985 in 2012. The ratio has improved by 25% since 2009.

There is an evidence-based relationship between health and learning.  School districts with school nurses have fewer student absences, decreased dropout rates, and increased graduation rates. School nurses make a difference.

To access the State of School Nursing in Montana: A survey of School Health Services 2015 in its entirety, go to
Comprehensive Study of School Nursing Services