DOE medical policies in need of a new prescription

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A school simply isn’t a school without a nurse. We’ve all found ourselves at the nurse’s office at one time or another needing a cot to rest on or words in which to find comfort.

It seems that school nurses do more than just send us home when our foreheads seem a little too warm. They provide services to students with documented, diagnosed needs and give referrals to parents/guardians when they feel that further assessment of an illness is needed. Nurses look after students with acute and chronic health problems and implement their prescribed services. The school nurse is expected to routinely assess the physical environment of the school and suggest actions to improve health and safety.

School nurses can do all these things but one thing they can’t do is give you an Advil or Tylenol when you ask for it. Nurses can administer medication only when an appropriately licensed health care provider or parent/guardian prescribes it. So don’t seek relief from headaches, cramps, and the like in the nurse’s office.

But let’s look at the student body of Townsend Harris, or rather, any high school at all. Ages in a high school typically range from fourteen to eighteen and a typical high school student by his/her senior year is likely to be allowed to drive a car, work, apply to college, even vote. Is the Department of Education’s Office of School Health telling me that I can drive and vote but not be allowed to ask for some Ibuprofen to relieve a headache long enough to get through a Latin exam?

I can’t help thinking that maybe if a nurse was able to administer some Tylenol or Advil at a student’s request, we could get rid of the possibility of a student accidently overdosing on his or her own, which could cause internal bleeding or liver damage.

Drugs like Tylenol and Advil aren’t allowed in schools but can we really prevent students from bringing them from home? I hope that this school’s administration and the Department of Education understands that students bring these drugs into school every day and administer these drugs to each other.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into the girl’s bathroom and have heard, “Anybody have some Advil? I’ve got killer cramps,” only to see soon after students taking these pain relievers from each other.

I’d hope that students only would take a Tylenol pill from someone they trust but wouldn’t it be safer to have the luxury of taking medication from a trained adult who would carefully administer the process? Sounds like it would be to me.

I think the Department of Education’s Office of School Health should be more lenient with high school students when it comes to medication.

It’s time to lengthen the leash and hand over the pills.