Growing up in Sturgis, SD (motorcycle rally capital of the world!), I vaguely remember the school nurses coming into the elementary school. I do know that most were Community Health Nurses, who came around at designated times to set up immunization clinics. We received many of our childhood shots at these school clinics. I know we were not blessed to have a nurse at our beck and call. Any childhood conditions were either dealt with by families, or the students did not come to school because they were too fragile. If injuries happened, band-aids were available, and if it was beyond band-aids, kids either stayed and were miserable or went home.
Fast forward to 1992. More expectations from parents and districts were put upon school nurses for screenings and treatments. The Sioux Falls School District hosted a School Nurse Conference, and SDSNA was born on August 28, 1992. The 16 attendees became the first charter members and elected a slate of officers. They wrote and approved the first by-laws. There initial goals were 1) To promote and advance the quality of school health services and education, and 2) To work toward the promotion of high professional standards for School Nurses. Affiliation with NASN occurred in 2007.
At the 1993 state legislative session, SDSNA, with the assistance of SDEA and SDNA, introduced and were able to see, passage of legislation mandating a school nurse in every district in the state that served Special Ed students. The hope was for school nurses to be present and provide professional nursing services to more students in the state, and that medications and treatments would be supervised by a professional registered nurse. SD has both a diverse population, and large surface area requiring coverage, with some of the poorest reservations in the country, as well as urban communities.
SDSNA has continued to grow and be recognized as a valuable contributor to the health of students and as a resource in our communities and schools, though membership numbers vary. In 2014, Susan Kelts, RN and former NASN Director, introduced a bill to allow stock Epinephrine into the schools and to be administered in an emergency by any trained individual. This bill passed unanimously in both the House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor. School nurses were involved in support of a bill mandating Meningitis and Tdap boosters for anyone entering 6th grade, which also passed. We continue to grow our partnerships as we align our standards with those of NASN, taking on difficult battles as needed to support our students, and keeping them safe, healthy, and ready to learn. As was quoted in a SDSNA cookbook many years ago, South Dakota School Nurses are making a difference in the lives of the children of our state.
In the photo below are some of the attendees at the SDSNA July, 2018. Front and center is the keynote speaker, NASN President Nina Fekaris!