How Can a School Nurse Help your Child with Asthma?

School nurses play a vital role in creating asthma-friendly schools.  Registered professional school nurses provide professional healthcare services that no other school staff members are equipped to offer.

You can help your child to manage asthma at school by talking with the school nurse at or prior to the beginning of the school year in August.  Share your child’s medical history and bring medications such as a rescue inhaler to the school along with a prescription from your healthcare professional.

The school nurse will need to know what your child’s triggers are, as well as your child’s signs and symptoms of asthma.  If you know that a particular trigger may be present in the school environment on a permanent or temporary basis (such as wood smoke or cold winter air), the school nurse will work with you to develop a plan to assist your child.

Your school nurse can help you to decide whether your child’s inhaler or emergency medications should be kept and administered by an adult or whether your child is ready to self-carry and self-medicate, in which case, you will receive a form to be signed by you and your healthcare professional.

Always inform the school nurse of any major changes in your child’s condition.  The school nurse is available to answer your questions and discuss your concerns.

The registered professional school nurse is also prepared to:

  • Identify students in the school with asthma.
  • Communicate with the student and family to gather data about the needs of the individual child and their perception of the child’s health status.
  • Communicate with the child’s healthcare professional about medications and additional interventions that may be necessary, such as a peak flow meter.
  • Create a written Individualized Healthcare Plan (IHP) and Emergency Care Plan (ECP).
  • Train unlicensed school staff to respond in the event of an asthma episode.
  • Communicate with the teacher and other school staff about classroom needs and expectations.
  • Arrange for pre-medication prior to exercise or sports, if indicated.
  • Arrange for medication and Emergency Care Plan to be taken on field trips.
  • Serve as the healthcare consultant to the Section 504 team.
  • Periodically evaluate the student’s use of medication, the effectiveness of the plan, the student’s opportunities to participate in all school activities, the frequency of school absences and the student’s ability to manage his/her asthma at school.

Sue Buswell, MSN, RN, NCSN
Retired School Nurse - Helena
Montana Association of School Nurses

Additional Resources:

Montana Asthma Control Program – Asthma Friendly Schools

Allergy and Asthma Network, Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA)  

Back to School Checklist for Students with Asthma - This back-to-school season, the National Jewish Health (Medical & Research Center) highlights tips for families of children with asthma and stresses the importance of crafting a plan to properly manage asthma in a school environment.